OP-ED: Change on the Horizon

As a Liberian, I’m very disappointed with the ongoing developments in Liberia; that is, Liberty Party’s claim of fraud and irregularities in the October 10, 2017, election.

Furthermore, I found the ruling Unity Party’s press conference in support of such claim a complete embarrassment to the nation’s democracy and peacebuilding process.

The Liberian 2017 election was intended to highlight the country’s progress and its first democratic transfer of power between elected leaders in seven decades, but here we are talking about electoral fraud and irregularities.

Before the election, a friend and I were discussing what it meant for this transfer of power. Among other things, we talked about the Liberian civil war, poor governance in all sectors, corruption, and mass poverty.

I told my friend that the war-torn Liberia I left almost eight years ago could not afford to screw this up. Now, after the election and this ongoing lawsuit about electoral misconduct, I guess I was wrong.

The issue becomes who do we hold accountable, and how can we Liberians fix this once and for all.

The System and the Leadership

In Liberia, we support the multi-party system and defend democratic elections. Thus, Liberians have never failed to turn out in large numbers to vote. However, our nation’s history of runoff elections had been the direct results of having too [many] political parties and ‘wannabe’ political candidates contesting these elections.

This indeed has severely weakened our democratic political system, as it has limited the opposition’s ability to act as a check against the ruling party.

That said, I think the Liberian electoral system needs to be revised. First, we must figure out a way to limit the number of parties to at least ten, not with favoritism, but based on the history of the party, the party’s contribution to our nation’s peacebuilding, qualification of the candidates, etc.

This will encourage other hopeful candidates to join forces and strengthen a party, as it is nearly impossible to get an absolute majority as the constitution demands. Plus, it is odd that these parties now want to join and protest the election result when they could have combined forces in the first place.

We the People

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, no doubt inherited a sinking nation, and while reports of unbridled corruption have stained her leadership, her ability to keep the peace during her 12 years of rule is beyond commendable.

That was a great start, but Liberians today must seek both peace and the opportunities to make life better for themselves and their families, in the form of jobs, education, good governance, healthcare, freedom, and more.

For once, while our politicians are busy with the old tricks of handing out rice during the elections, we must think and put the nation first by voting wisely in all elections. That means electing someone who will deliver both in goods and services on a consistent level.

Don’t vote because the candidate is from your county, but because of the future of the country, and the future of your children’s children, depends on it.

Unlike before, our politicians must understand that we the people of Liberia are tired of promises, and demand progress. If we do this, there will be no more runoff elections, as the choice of the people will be made clear. The funds allotted to runoff elections could be used for development.

I’m not a politician, nor am I supporting any of the candidates running for office. However, I remain a strong supporter of Liberia – its people and its growth. The country deserves better leadership and the Liberian people deserve better governance going forward. I look forward to the end of this ongoing lawsuit and wish mama Liberia nothing but the best.

Featured photo courtesy of Aftab Uzzaman

Jah M. Wilson

Jah M. Wilson Jr., is a Liberian writer, journalist, and aspiring social entrepreneur residing in the United States. He holds a B.A., in broadcast communications with a minor in theater from the University of Pittsburgh-Pennsylvania.

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