Liberia: Sky Won’t Fall

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Two things are certain: the winning candidate, whether Johnson-Sirleaf or Weah, will succeed only if we put aside our partisan rhetoric and rally behind the victor. On the other hand, we could be heading for more trouble if we adopt the sit-on-the-fence attitude and expect nothing good if our preferred candidate does not win. We must understand that democracy does not always bring out the results we want

We have cried and died for democracy. We have been bamboozled by some con-artists for democracy. The late dictator Samuel K. Doe and his gangs promised to “liberate� Liberia from exclusive rule of the elite descendents of returned enslaved Africans. Then Charles Taylor introduced his hell.

Before we even talk of the present, the foundation of our country was supposedly laid on democracy. All along we have not seen or experienced real democracy until the election of 2005. Unlike during the William Tubman era when there was only a single candidate to vote for, unlike 1985 when military dictatorship was in total control, and unlike 1997 when Taylor and other warlords were lording over divided territories, this time we have a lame duck president who does not influence who the voters should vote for. For the first time in Liberia’s history, we are having what can be called the freest election. Round one is over; now in round two candidates George Weah and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf will square off.

After running campaigns without intimidation, after standing in long lines to cast their votes, after being patted on the back by the rest of the world for conducting one of the freest elections in Africa, it seems like the second round is generating more heat. There is lots of grumbling about what the final outcome may be.

Having interviewed people there on the streets of Monrovia, and back here in the states, it seems as if everybody was expecting nothing like less than total victory for their preferred candidate and no one is willing to accept the final result that may come out at the end of the day. Against this background, Liberians have been expressing their views on radio airwaves in Monrovia, urging the candidates to accept the results. The 20 defeated candidates might have been paying close attention to what the people have been expressing. Now that there are only two left in the race, the heat wave of the political grumbling is rising, putting in doubt whether any of the two candidates will be humble enough to call and congratulate the winning candidate.

The campaign is getting a little uglier as we approach the date set for the second round. Talk to the supporters of Harvard-educated Johnson-Sirleaf and they would like to convince you that the sky will fall and the world will come to a sudden stop if Weah becomes president. On the other hand, talk to Weah, high-school-dropout but-super-rich-and-very-popular, they would like to convince you that Liberia will continue to swim in the sea of instability if his opponent becomes president. They claim she’s best known for undermining other regimes. Some of them want us to believe that for the first time in Liberia’s history, a “country boy� has the financial means to match that of the elite who think they are the only ones fit to rule the country. Having experienced dictatorship and oppression from both the elite (referred to as Congons) and so-called “native� Liberians, it’s not fair to reduce the race to the Congon versus “native� factor.

What’s more troubling from both sides of the campaign is the level of fanaticism being demonstrated. Where do I stand on the whole matter, many people have asked me since I am just back from Liberia, having witnessed the first round on the 11th of October. The sky will not fall if Weah becomes president—also, Liberia will not turn into an over-night paradise with manna dropping from the sky.

Two things are certain: the winning candidate, whether Johnson-Sirleaf or Weah, will succeed only if we put aside our partisan rhetoric and rally behind the victor. On the other hand, we could be heading for more trouble if we adopt the sit-on-the-fence attitude and expect nothing good if our preferred candidate does not win. We must understand that democracy does not always bring out the results we want; our willingness to accept the result and work together for the common good of the country can make the difference. All we must ask for is that the process be transparent and fair to all.

Black Star News contributor Konneh can reached at KonnLove@aol.com. He is author of  “Going To War For America .â€?Readers can respond to this article directly to the author or to letters@blackstarnews.com

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