By J K K Peah
When anyone thought the election to replace the outgoing democratically elected first woman President of Africa and a Noble Peace Prize Winner for Human and Women’s Rights, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf would be marked by the brightest glimpse of transparency and full application and enforcement of the laws governing the conduct of elections in Liberia and grounded in legitimacy, the Liberian President has instead traded to preside over the October 10th election to replace her to be saturated and characterized by intentional lies, forgeries, corruption and gamesmanship that is steeped in a messy judiciary which gives the syndicate a semblance of legitimacy though it contradicts the laws and in reality, an election in the jungle where no rule of law, the powerful, well-connected and anyone with money to spread around the judiciary, can buy their way on the ballot even if you are not a Liberian citizen.
The international community and foreign missions as well as international organizations funding the election are comfortably dinning with the Liberian leader as they cheer her preside over an illegitimate and the most corrupt election in post-war Liberia that will come to be in a special company with notorious election ever held including the election of 1928 where voters were more than the registered voters and the military election of 1985 which set the country on course for the brutal 14-years civil war.
The October 10th election of Liberia is fueled by lack of respect and enforcement of the rule of law and willful violation of the country’s constitution, election laws and other regulations.
Outstanding among the widespread and blatant violation and President Sirleaf’s government permissibility of these violations are:
a. The refusal of President Sirleaf to remove the Chairman of the National Election Commission, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya who has been accused of being a U S citizen and taken to court by a prominent Liberian politician, Togba Nah Tipoteh and the case is pending. The media has published irrefutable evidence of Cllr Korkoya’s American citizenship including his passport, passport number and his voting records in the United States from the state of New Jersey, Staten Island, New York.
The Liberian constitution and election laws forbid a non Liberian from sitting on and heading the National Election Commission and the country and dual citizenship is not permissible in the country.
b. Candidates in violation of the laws including those in infraction of the Code of Conduct are also contesting after the nation’s Supreme Court came down with a decision far from the law and jurisprudence, ordering the Commission to put candidates on the ballot who were previously disqualified by the Commission.
c. Despite laws disbarring non citizen and with no dual citizenship accepted in Liberia, candidates with foreign citizenship, including the former Coco Cola executive, Mr Alexander Cummings, a naturalized American and Standard Bearer of the country’s largest political party, Coalition for Democratic, also a naturalized French and American citizen and a sitting Senator are running for President though the constitution and election laws unambiguously stipulate that only natural born Liberian citizen can run for public office.
Several other candidates too are in violation of the country’s constitution and laws but it is unthinkable how the body in charge of the election and the Sirleaf administration refuse to protect and uphold the laws of the country they took oath to do while they allow foreign national, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya to preside over the election of a sovereign country of which he is not a citizen.
The judiciary, unfortunately went so far off the comprehension of the law and jurisprudence and to look the other way and allow foreign nationals to preside over the election and non Liberian citizens to run for President and ironically too, they will be taking the Oath of office to protect, defend and uphold the constitution and laws of the republic which they are already in violating and not qualified to take as foreigners and aliens.
When other countries around Liberia is forging ahead and every country is cultivating or putting in place the conditions to take advantage the “great convergence” and “re-balancing” (new world order where knowledge and wealth is leaving to “north”-developed countries, to the “south”-developed countries carrying money and business to underdeveloped countries and knowing Liberia is best suited to harness a golden share of this new trend of wealth and knowing leaving the north to the south because of its political, cultural, historical, institutional and physical proximity to the richest country on earth with a $20 Trillion economy if only the country’s leaders could realize this gold-mine of opportunity and put their acts in order which must begin with the respect for the rule of law rather than glamouring for the dismantling of the laws of their own country to accommodate corrupt and selfish desire.
Liberia’s 2017 election is no doubt an election in the jungle where all hands on deck on the assault no the rule of law with gamesmanship, corruption, forgeries and a messy judiciary money can buy.
There is a coordinated conspiracy of silence of the 26 opposition political parties with no reaction coming from them frowning on this sad state of affairs endangering the country under the canopy keeping silent to slip through the cracks as they too are as well in violation of the laws, fielding several foreign nationals as candidates.
On the flip side, despite fielding ineligible candidates, some Presidential candidates who are non citizens are insisting they are bringing change, accusing their opponents of being old wine in new battle or that others are corrupt.
One such instances is the campaign stumps of former Coco Cola executive, Mr Alexander Cummings who sees himself as a” clean hand” and not corrupt like other candidates because he obtained his wealth through honest labor.
Mr Cummings unfortunately fails to realize that corruption is not only stealing wealth and physical cash but obtaining through dubious means and filing fake documentation with the National Election Commission to prove he is a Liberian, lying at registration as well as lying on nomination form to meet the stipulations as a presidential candidate are also corruption and that makes him too as corrupt as the other candidates he is accusing of corruption and does not respect the rule of law and love the country.
The prevailing predicament facing Liberia where there is no respect for the law of is solely placed on the platter of the President who traded the conscious of the nation to taint the democratic growth the country has attained after a brutal civil war for whatever her intentions are.
Conducting an election in the 21st century as paradoxical to the 2005 election conducted which was held in the shadow of a brutal war and no matter what pronouncement international observers will make of the after the election is held, proclaiming it free and fair, will not change the core reality that foreign nationals contested and the election was presided by a non Liberian citizen and the government emanating out of illegitimate election will lack the legitimacy to government.
Liberia sadly abuses the opportunity it has to reign among the spheres of nations to shine in an election that is so important in 73 years, a sad story, that history will be unkind to President Sirleaf for abusing her power by defrauding the country of showcasing its democratic solvency as a nation poised for glory.