Liberia: Toppling The Government

As the details of their ‘confidential’ document presented to the government emerged, the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) took the defiant and bold position in announcing that it should seize power since, in the thinking of people behind this group, they won the first round of the October election.

The language used is revealing, indicative of a changing political landscape that points to anarchy and the shielding of actions once unimagined in this country’s opposition politics.

“In a robust and decisive revolutionary tone, the committee continues, ‘we are immensely disappointed in Madam Sirleaf’s diabolical and manipulative political nature and urge our leaders to take a strong stance against her second attempt to steal a democratic process, manipulate the international community into supporting this abuse of Liberians basic rights and preserving power and wealth for a few family members and cronies…’

“At the root of the committee’s recommendation is a call on the CDC, ‘The victorious party in the 2011 elections that was manipulated’, to rise to the occasion and assume national leadership, drawing from the strong argument that Mrs. Sirleaf lacks sufficient mandate to govern Liberia. “The CDC should claim her rightful first round victory, annul the fraudulent and unconstitutional second round and assume leadership in Liberia as per the Mandate given to this noble party by the people of Liberia’, the committee said.”

But the leaked comprehensive proposals that retired football star George Weah and his team presented to the government during bi-partisan talks provide better understanding of the party’s post-elections dilemma in grabbing power after its defeat at the polls.

The concluding paragraph of the document carries some foreboding, in that it threatened violence if doors are closed in the distribution of state resources, as the party warned:

“Determined that war shall visit our homeland no more and as a testimony of our ties to a common patrimony and destiny, we hereby affix our signatures to this promise in our grieving post war country; recognizing that when absolutely necessary, our people shall reserve the right to take their destiny into their own hands.”

The CDC has denied that the document is its making, but credible sources involved in the talks have dismissed the denial, saying that the CDC leadership, indeed, produced and presented the document.

“Since they have denied it, then we are happy that it is not their document. What is now expected, and very soon, is a document from the CDC spelling out what they want”, one source said.

But a new document is unlikely because the CDC placed all its hopes in the now leaked document, outlandish as it is. This led the party’s leadership to swiftly leave the country and congregate in Accra, Ghana, where Mr. Weah has a home. He has since flown to Florida, where he lives.

But from Accra, they provided hints that the talks have broken down, although the Ministry of Information conditionally denied the reports.

However, if there were doubts that the talks had ended without any agreement in view of the sweeping demands the CDC presented that, if accepted, would have surrendered the entire government to it, Mr. George Solo, Mr. Weah’s US-based confidante, cleared those doubts at a press conference held in Accra. He warned:

“I want to categorical repeat. The Government must put efforts into this process just as we are putting (in) effort. Because if the Government does not live up to the commitment and expectation of its people as Liberians, there will be no inauguration in the Republic of Liberia.”

Here is a vivid admission that they presented a blueprint for dismantling state structures on the basis of their lenses, and that this blueprint has been placed in the dustbin because of its impracticality. If not, they would not have shed tears over the government’s failure to match effort with effort.

More hints of a proposal ignored in Mr. Solo’s threats ridden press conference emerged as Mr. Weah listened:

“If the value of honesty and transparency continues to be procrastinated, CDC will result to rallying and peaceful protesting and the biggest of those would be done on January 16.

“So for anyone who thinks that it is in the best interest of the nation to continue to push attention of the CDC to the wall, let them think again. Let them think again. “Because the only alternative apart from this process, is to result to a protest again.”

They were right in this case. The government was not only ‘procrastinating’, but indications are that it trashed the document that would yield power to the CDC after its failure to win the elections, now with the belief that protests and violence would better serve its power designs.

A look at the document reveals the naiveté of the CDC leaders in actually believing that ‘victory is at hand’, as its defeated presidential candidate Winston Tubman vowed before the talks.

Reading through the lines, it emerges that one strategy was adopted, and that was to make the most hilarious and outrageous demands so that, when narrowed down, something unexpected can be achieved. It’s like a person begging for US100 and the money is immediately given without questions when the actual amount the person needs is US20. The next time, US500 will be requested.

Thus the document begins with the following proviso:

“This document is not a final agreement. It is a concept paper on the specific proposal emanating from the Congress for Democratic Change to the Government of Liberia that will guide the negotiations ensuing between the two sides following the 2011 elections. It basically states the CDC impression of how to proceed with maintaining the peace and stability in Liberia by fostering a political environment conducive to participative government and stresses the interest of the opposition and the ordinary people who must be the supreme beneficiaries of national policies.

The document covers CDC’s immediate demands which must be addressed by the Unity Party-led Government in the earliest timeframe, briefly examines significant issues such as critical areas for attention and reform and the need to devise a program and agenda for national progress, identifies how the CDC and the opposition it represents may participate in national reform drive and the qualification and condition for appointments in government.

“By establishing principles for engagement and setting a defined timeframe for implementation of each of the proposed conditions stated in the agreement which will evolve out of the discussions, the CDC believes success will be assured and the Liberian society and people will benefit.

Following the negotiations, an agreement will be drawn up that will be signed by both sides.”

As indicated, this was the first stage, and once agreed, the CDC would have entered other phases. Power through the backdoor was the objective.

But why did the party believe that any government worth the name, after an election internationally endorsed, would embrace such a power-sharing deal with a loser party?

Unlike in Zimbabwe, DR Congo, Kenya and other countries where elections results were questionable, this was not the case here, despite what the CDC and its allies believe. The fact is that it boycotted the elections. The fact is that it was therefore defeated.

So on what legal basis, in a winner-takes all electoral and political system that governs Liberia, was the CDC demanding positions in the government and the right to dismantle key institutions such as the Supreme Court, the National Elections Commission, along with powers to nominate ambassadors?

More surprising in the entire tragic comedy is that one of the country’s best-educated lawyers–the Harvard and London School of Economics product Winston Tubman, one of the lawyers who drafted the country’s current constitution, is actually starring in such laughable play. Without him as one of the main characters in the tragic comedy, there would be no surprises from the rest of the caste. The language in the ‘Introduction’ of the document clearly reveals that what Mr. Tubman and Mr. Weah want is a coalition government of equals that will be legally binding, depriving an elected president of all constitutional powers in the return to the war years when warlords shared power on the basis of how many people they killed.

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  1. Louise Reply

    That takes us up to the next level. Great pisotng.

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