Liberia needs the rule of thumb of regulations, now not political expediency
In strongly worded statements this month that bordered on hyperbole, most modern and past representatives of the US government entreated Liberia to plug up electoral litigation complaints for a aloof transition of presidential energy.
In response to the Liberian Supreme Court docket’s suspension of a runoff election that ought to have taken region on November 7 between football star-turned-flesh presser George Weah and basically the most modern vice president, Joseph Boakai, the successive US proclamations were faulty at most productive.
First, the US embassy current in Liberia claimed on November 15 that « cumulative anomalies noticed » one day of the October 10 presidential and legislative races were insufficient to warrant a rerun and that electoral disputes need to be handled speedily.
Feeble US Ambassador to Liberia and Assistant Secretary of Enlighten for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield persevered on November 17 by rebuking Charles Walker Brumskine of the opposition Liberty Occasion (LP) for now not easy the election results, which had been speculated to be pretend.
Every week later, on November 20, two contributors of Congress told US Secretary of Enlighten Rex Tillerson to give a enhance to a speedily resolution to the political stalemate attributable to it will also « jeopardize peace and balance in every Liberia and your total West African location ».
Whereas US political interference in Liberia’s most modern electoral impasse could well appear benign, it’s far neither priceless nor priceless. As a nation struggling to beat a 14-Three hundred and sixty five days armed battle and gain its salvage democratic footing, Liberia needs the rule of thumb of regulations extra than ever sooner than, now not political expediency.
Right here’s what democracy looks love, smells love, tastes love, no matter the tip consequence of those appeals.
As evidenced by most modern outbursts about Liberia’s electoral course of, the US government has this uncanny capability to advertise democracy whereas concurrently undermining it. Having beforehand supported embattled autocrats comparable to Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Burkina Faso’s Blaise Compaore and Liberia’s Samuel Kanyon Doe, the US ironically stays one among the predominant funders of judicial system-strengthening in Africa.
As an instance, following Liberia’s first submit-war polls in 2005, which ushered in the election of Africa’s first female president – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – world donors, such because the United States Company for World Building (USAID), invested in renovating courts, practising judges and magistrates, and topping up the salaries of employees of the judiciary.
Over the past 12 years, varied parts of the Liberian judiciary have improved with linkages to other establishments aimed at providing entry to justice for all Liberians, even though the design is device from finest or total. Ongoing electoral challenges in Liberia are emblematic of the nation’s onerous-fought attempts to attain the rule of thumb of regulations above all else.
Apart from, opposite to the eruption of political violence in Kenya after Raila Odinga challenged the August eight vote and the Supreme Court docket of Kenya dominated in his favour, election results announced by the Nationwide Elections Commission (NEC) on October 20 precipitated a succession of acceptable challenges without any outbreak of violence in Liberia.
The gratified irony is that Liberia’s electoral litigation processes this Three hundred and sixty five days had been extra aloof than elections in 2011, when property modified into destroyed and civilian casualties recorded one day of an opposition boycott of the runoff.
Even if the LP’s Brumskine first and critical regarded as if it’s far also the lone ranger, a maverick of kinds in his acceptable crusade to exclaim alleged irregularities and procedural errors, he modified into later supported by a coalition of other events, in conjunction with the ruling Cohesion Occasion (UP) and just a few other smaller outfits.
In spite of whether or now not or now not their case warrants a rerun, the LP and its predominant intervener, the UP, presented some troubling findings.
As an instance, allegations abound a few discrepancy between the closing voter registration roll certified by the NEC in September 2017 and the one shared with the UP after it requested it on November 14. In some conditions, voter ID numbers entered into the system produced two definite names, calling into keep an disclose to the validity of NEC-issued numbers.
The truth that supreme some political events had entry to the closing voter registration roll is additionally cause for disclose. In old elections, as attested by passe NEC chair Frances Johnson-Allison, voter registration lists were published in the public domain sooner than the elections.
Some legislative races were additionally flawed in October, with the NEC compelled to habits unusual elections in some precincts per procedural errors.
In spite of those obvious mishaps, the NEC predictably dominated in its salvage favour closing week, arguing that there is insufficient evidence to substantiate claims that its execution of the October 10 elections modified into pretend. In further rejecting an charm by the LP and UP, the NEC Board of Commissioners insisted that allegations of irregularities didn’t warrant a rerun of the polls, nor would the tip consequence of the outcomes had been significantly altered otherwise.
Brumskine’s LP has already announced its intent to attain an charm to the Supreme Court docket and Boakai’s UP could well seemingly apply trip well with. Right here’s what democracy looks love, smells love, tastes love, no matter the tip consequence of those appeals.
The US government officials who have tried to browbeat Liberia into political submission clearly have selective amnesia. They’ve forgotten that in 1985, allegedly rigged elections sanctioned in the title of expediency resulted in extra than 15 years of loss of life and destruction in Liberia.
They’ve additionally forgotten that on December 12, 2000, the US Supreme Court docket dominated in favour of George W Bush in opposition to an electoral field by Al Gore. Even if elections were held on November 7 that Three hundred and sixty five days, the Supreme Court docket didn’t danger its ruling until December 12. People waited for the tip consequence for over a month, without unwarranted interference by outsiders.
Liberians have already demonstrated that they too can notify persistence and reticence. In spite of the tip consequence of Liberia’s acceptable petitions, they are a marker of a fledgling democracy borne by Africa’s first murky republic.
Despite all the pieces, democracy is a course of and now not an match. One size would not fit all.
By the usage of the rule of thumb of regulations to resolve electoral disputes, Liberia is taking pages out of the Kenyan and US playbooks. The US would plot nicely to chorus from making alarmist political statements and enable Liberia’s most modern litigation course of to attain its logical conclusion.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s salvage and plot now not necessarily have Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.