The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Does The Outcome Of The Just-Ended Elections Give Liberia Accreditation In International Politics? -The New Dawn For Democracy In Africa

By Wilmot Bullo
(Student, Cuttington Graduate School of Global Affairs)
Following the announcement of the run-off result on Friday, November 17 by NEC (National Elections Commissions), which covered 99.58 percent of results, the unprecedented happened. It has become a major discussion, both in the regional and international territories.

Countries hailed Liberia for demonstrating what they called a peaceful election. The more shocking of all was when the incumbent accepted defeat immediately after the announcement. This act was considered noble and progressive, a huge step in the right direction as regards the growth of democracy in the region, and a change of the narrative in Africa.

With a total of eight Coup d’états happening in just three years in Africa, it has become a national and international concern when a country goes to an election. The odds of the process being free and fair, raise serious panic among stakeholders.

Nearly seven decades of an unstable democratic system, from having a single-party rule that lasted more than 130 years, and having elections that might be termed today as not free and fair, to having an election that is recorded as the most fraudulent election, and being a post-war country.

It can now be said that Liberia has made significant progress in elections and democracy. This election had over 1,903,000 registered voters, and according to NEC, every registered voter whose name was verified on the Final Registration Roll (FRR) was allowed to vote, and every representative of each candidate was presented during both the voting and tallying processes.

This should be more than just one country’s thing; it should serve as an example of how elections should be conducted in Africa.

The European Union, African Union, and ECOWAS, are among other regional bodies that have commended Liberia for holding a peaceful election. As part of the process to promote free and fair elections, the Government of Liberia invited international organizations to observe the elections.
Others may claim that this is belated, given the fact that Liberia is the oldest African Independent State and should be far ahead when it comes to democracy and good governance, but what one cannot ignore is that democracy is a process.

It is noteworthy that as peaceful as the elections turned out to be, it wasn’t without incidents, as serious tussles were reported in various parts of the country, chief among them being the clash in northwestern Lofa between the two main political parties, which led to the death of three persons and more than 18 persons injured.

In a comment made by the UN Human Rights Office Spokesperson, Seif Magango, it was reported that there were also outbreaks of electoral violence in Grand Cape Mount, Nimba, and Montserrado Counties, the use of hate speeches by politicians, and attacks on journalists leading to injuries.

These elections were the first since the United Nations peacekeeping mission ended in the country, organized by the national government, which is seen to be restoring public confidence in NEC and the electoral process in Liberia and Africa.

The manner and means by which Pres. Weah conceded defeat sent out a strong message and set a high standard, not just to Liberians, but to Africa and the world, which indicates that the people’s will must stand above all others, especially when it comes to elections.

The foundation of democracy starts with a peaceful transition of power by a ruling government; it might be a small step, but it is the most important. This is the second peaceful handover of power from one democratically-elected government to the next since the civil war, which lasted for 14 years and claimed more than 250,000 lives.

Nevertheless, Liberia has become the beacon of hope for democracy, amid rigging elections, Coup d’états, and other things that demolish the democratic process, creating an international sensation and shaping a new path for a democratic Africa.

After all the tribal sentiments, tension, violence, and intolerance, it can finally be said that, once again, democracy has been chosen.

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