Did Liberians Make the Right Decision in Choosing Ellen?
Many in Liberian communities – at home and abroad are still recuperating from the “post-election trauma,” as someone referred to all the hala-halla [noise in Liberian vernacular] that characterized the campaigning and elections. Most recently, the last week of November marked another shock for Liberians after Ellen announced the interim cabinet to oversea the transition from the current UN-backed government to the one elected on November 8. The names, the people, the titles all resembled those of past regimes. Did Liberians then make a wrong decision in choosing Ellen as president?
What Liberians think? Recent polls conducted with focus groups reflect the sentiments, if not disappointments, and aspirations of the masses. In one of the poll we asked, “How fair was the run-off presidential elections between Ellen and George?” 61% said the elections was transparent, 17% felt it was rigged in favor of Ellen, and 17% believe the elections was moderately transparent (view poll here). This may ring a bell to some, if not many.
In another focus group poll, we asked, “Will Liberia return to war after the election?” 25% said it is most likely, 13% said maybe and one understands what that means, while 63% said, “No more war” (participate here). Though the majority of Liberians never ever again wants to go to war, the fear of war lingers deep down in minds and soul of these people. They know very well that a government that does not get the total support of the people is bound to encounter hurdles – opposition disdain or an outright rejection by the people themselves.
In a past article, I argued that “If Ellen Johnson was elected,” and she has, that “she will need to embark on a campaign of persuasion – convincing former comrades in arms” both locally and abroad. “By and large, this could be a laborious task, for Ellen has been an influence and instigator of past military coups and the just ended Liberian Civil War. In a scenario she does not succeed in getting former warlords to finally bury their anger and mistrust, Ellen [could] be faced with subversive activities – a direct replica of what she has sown over the past decades.” Could such a scenario be unfolding in Liberia?
I echoed the question as to who will be the next leaders of Liberia. Liberians have seen dictators like Willam V.S. Tubman, Samuel Doe’s military junta, warlord Charles Taylor come and go while the politicians pillaged public good and crippled the economy. One hundred fifty-eight years of independence, yet Liberia has little to show in terms of development or better living standard.
In another piece I wrote in August, “Recycled Liberian Politicians are back. This time around, it is to compete through the ballot box, not with the barrel of the gun. Liberians in many places are asking themselves, ‘Can these people make a difference this time?’ Will Liberia ever rise up to live up to its true meaning, giving every Liberian the opportunity to lead a happy and dignified life?” To these questions Liberians are yet to get any answers, as there has been no major breakthrough.
As many Liberians observed in awe in the pre-government nominations made my Madam President-elect, the same old goats that changed skins and are now acting in sheepskin, are the ones being named to top government jobs. “Where is the decency?” a young man asked. “Liberia’s president-elect has embarked on a mission to reward loyalists” – the same old folks – “with high power government jobs they shall use to pillage the economy and maintain the same oligarchy Liberia inherited over a century ago,” he lamented.
The president-elect has yet to convince the masses as to what the new government will look like. The time is right to embrace diversity and competence and to form a government of genuine national unity.
One thing is clear - Liberians shall rise to the occasion to take their destiny into their own hands when they feel they made the wrong choice. The world is watching!