Thursday, March 7, 2013
Will The Loyal Opposition Take a Stand in Liberia?
If the current level of discontent amongst Liberians is anything to judge by, then there is a strong likelihood Liberia may experience severe turbulence in the months ahead. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s second term may not be as quiet as the first. The signs are everywhere.
At the root of the problem is a weak, disorganized, and very disconnected leadership. The Government seems to be operating on autopilot where no one is in charge, so everyone does whatever seems right in their own eyes. And chaos, becoming the order of business, has produced a fertile ground for runaway corruption. Things are fast falling apart because President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Unity Party have made a complete mess of Liberia’s post-war reconstruction. Therefore it is high time the loyal opposition unifies in preparation for any eventuality.
There are several reasons why the loyal opposition must assert itself now; most compelling of which is the fact that the governing Unity Party is in total disarray. The partisans are calling for President Sirleaf’s resignation and even threatening to use force if necessary. And, instead of rallying around the President, all the top officials of the party are clamoring to succeed her.
From all indications Liberia is slouching closer towards the outbreak of violence and the reasons are obvious. After eight years of President Sirleaf’s leadership the population is terrorized by armed robbers. When the sun sets, Monrovia becomes the darkest capital in the world and so is the rest of the country. Also, due to the lack of clean drinking water, preventable diseases are claiming lives across the country. And girls are dropping out of school at an alarming rate, many are turning to prostitution.
Furthermore, it has been ten years since cessation of hostilities, yet thousands of displaced citizens are afraid to return to their homes because of security concerns. Regrettably, a large percentage of the population often goes to bed hungry due the country’s high (85%) unemployment. But the greatest danger of all is the large population of idle youths, which includes thousands of former child soldiers.
In spite of the gloomy statistics, the Unity Party under President Sirleaf’s leadership has mortgaged more than 64% of Liberia’s land mass to private companies for billions of dollars that have yet to be accounted for. Global Witness and other reputable organizations have confirmed that these companies are carrying out mass destruction of Liberia’s virgin rain forest under the watchful eyes of Africa’s first female president.
Arguably, President Sirleaf’s greatest failure to date has been her unwillingness to prioritize national reconciliation and this, more than anything else, may be the likely cause of renewed violence. The people are anxious. Mistrust, suspicion and fear have hindered progress. Tension is rising and pressure is building across the land. To ignore this fact as President Sirleaf has done is a clear indication of a disconnected leader. Liberians generally do not support violence; however, violence may be unavoidable if calls for change are consistently ignored. The vast majority of the citizens believes justice is the best path towards lasting peace and security, but the Sirleaf administration refuses to listen.
President Sirleaf seems to be in denial when it comes to the myriad of issues threatening the peace; but thankfully, the international community has recognized the impending danger and is responding accordingly. The governments of several leadings nations such as Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, and the United States are strongly advising their citizens not to travel to Liberia for safety reasons. And the U.N. Secretary General has said repeatedly that “peace in Liberia is fragile.”
Unless the principal culprit.s. of the 14 years bloodletting are held accountable and emphasis is placed on reconciliation, it will not only be difficult to rid Liberia of its violent image, but also impossible to begin meaningful post-war reconstruction. And, as long as international investors take their cue from host nations, the economic hardship for Liberians will persists, eventually resulting in the breakdown of law and order. Therefore we call on the loyal opposition to begin constructive engagement in order to better position itself to provide effective leadership in the event of another national crisis.
Please note the loyal opposition is not restricted to politicians; rather, it includes all peace-loving, patriotic Liberians who must come together while there is still a semblance of stability; otherwise, we again through neglect are placing our future in the hands of the very people that got us into the mess we now find ourselves.
About the author: Mr. TQ Harris, Jr. currently resides in Liberia. He has founded and managed several companies. He also worked assiduously to bring an end to the Liberian Civil War and provided humanitarian assistance to thousands of displaced Liberians. In the 1997 election he participated as a vice presidential candidate. And in 2011 Mr. Harris was elected standard bearer of the Freedom Alliance Party, but later withdrew from the race. You can contact him by Email: email@example.com or Phone: 231 88 040-2479.