For any country, the election process can be difficult. This is why many onlookers and citizens of Liberia were concerned when the November election was taken to the country's Supreme Court. From the beginning of the election season, many onlookers and citizens of Liberia watched as a former soccer player, his ex-girlfriend, two warlords, and a sitting vice-president battled to replace Madam President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Many believe Sirleaf had brought stability to the country. Liberia has been plagued with many issues for the past several decades, so the election season was seen by many in the Country as a pivotal election based on the hopes that the Country needed to keep climbing toward stability and progress.
George Weah was declared the President of Liberia by a huge margin of 61.5 percent of the vote. He handily beat the sitting vice-president Joseph Boakai. Although Weah beat Boakai by a large margin, he and many of his supporters including thought that the election process had been rigged. Therefore, the election had to be verified by the Supreme Court.
George Weah is a former soccer player who has ties to the soccer/athletic culture but lacks a government policy background. Unlike former President Johnson Sirleaf, who has ties to America and was able to get the Country's debt forgiven, there isn't much known about Weah other than his soccer background and his brief tenure serving in the Senate representing his home town of Monrovia. Many in Liberia are wondering how Weah will solve the issues of high unemployment and a lack of educational infrastructure to bring about the changes that Liberia needs. To give a deeper perspective on Liberia, we have asked our Founder and Executive Director Jessy Togba-Doya to give his insight on the Liberian election.
Q. Can you please explain Liberia's election process?
A. Liberia has a democratic form of government. As such, those who serve in elected offices are voted for by the citizenry. However, the vote of most Liberians, especially the disenfranchised or marginalized, are often influenced by corrupt politicians who use cash to lure voters.
Q. Who were the two main presidential candidates in the past election?
A. The past election was between the ruling Unity Party (UP), whose standard bearer is Joseph N. Boakai, and the opposition party Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) headed by George Manneh Weah. The CDC beat UP in a runoff election. George Weah was inaugurated as president on January 22, 2018.
Q. What happened during the past election process?
A. Some political parties believed that the general election was characterized by irregularities and fraud which caused the Liberty Party, Alternative National Congress, and others to file a lawsuit that delayed the runoff election. The Supreme Court of Liberia ruled that the evidence provided was not sufficient to substantiate the plaintiffs' claim. After the court case, a runoff election was held between CDC and UP.
Q. Was there any rioting or violence during the election process?
A. Yes, there were protests, riots, and clashes between supporters of various political parties during the Liberian election. Some of the riots and protests resulted in injuries, deaths, and property damage. One of the major tasks the Weah-led government has at hand is the job of unifying citizens across the political divide.
Q. What do the people of Liberia need from the government?
A. Liberian people depend on the government to provide political and economic stability, educational opportunities, access to healthcare, and other public services. Unfortunately, the government of Liberia over the past years has not been able to provide these to its people. Though the Country is endowed with an abundance of natural resources, the government has not been able to leverage the resources for the betterment of its people. We are resource rich but economically poor.
Q. How can the American Church help you in carrying out the Gospel?
A. Churches in the United States and other parts of the world can help empower Liberians who are desirous of reaching their communities with the Gospel by training Liberian Christians and providing them with the resources needed to reach their own people with the Gospel.