Liberians in an out of the country have become disillusioned with the field of potential candidates and the process in the upcoming run-off elections.
According to the West African Times correspondent in Monrovia, shock and disappointment have gripped thousands of Liberians who say the country may have missed an opportunity this election to disconnect from the failed past and into a bright future with credible and new leadership.
In interviews, Liberians across the country said they were greatly disappointed with the incompetence of the National Elections Commission (NEC), the body charged with conducting the elections which will see the replacement of President Ellen John-Sirleaf.
They also questioned the governance ability of some candidates contesting the Presidency, adding that lack of national development and economic stagnation have been hampered by poor planning, lack of national vision and and vices in every sector of Liberia.
Reports say at polling centers in several areas across the country, voters were not allowed to cast their ballot because of incomplete or missing registration rolls in particular precincts, lack of trained poll workers and geographic inaccessibility. Some voters complained that a lack of an aggressive voter education program may have also contributed to the confusion and disenfranchisement of voters.
Major political parties including Liberty (LP) and the Alternative National Congress (ANC) have expressed reservations about the acceptance of the outcome of the elections due to ‘irregularities”. In its reaction, the LP, through its National Chairman Ben Sanvee said, ” there is absolutely no excuse for hindering Liberians from exercising their democratic rights.”
His statement came shortly after the NEC gave notification that it would begin the release of preliminary vote tallies of the October 10th voting process.
The ANC, in a statement, called on the NEC to address issues of the very late opening of voting centers, missing voter rolls and refusal to allow voters to cast their ballots in several sub-political subdivisions of the country including Grand Gedeh, Sinoe, Margibi and Bong Counties.
In Gbarlata, Bong County in central Liberia, protesters who claimed they were denied their voting rights resorted to burning tires and blocking streets on election day until local police intervened to quiet the situation.
The NEC has invalidated over 84,000 ballots.
Liberians interviewed say that the country cannot expect to make any progress with the election of the same failed leaders. Already, some have indicated that they will not vote in the run-off elections.
In a survey of Liberians in the Diaspora, many expressed disappointment with their compatriots back in Liberia who are choosing to maintain the “status quo” through their vote preferences. Some told the West African Times that they have “checked out” of any further meaningful engagement with the homeland and blamed the lack of education, critical evaluation, corruption and patriotism as some reasons for the perpetuation of poor individual and national progress.
Asked if they support any of the potential run off candidates, scores of Diaspora Liberians said no. “We are focused on taking care of our careers and families here abroad now. Liberians will have to live with the choices they are making,” one Bartee Johnson from Ohio said.
A Liberian national named Miatta Knoh based in Australia said she was unsure of how Liberia will progress in the coming years. “No one cares about our people. And even the same Liberian people have settled for mediocrity and do-nothing politicians who got them suffering like this. I’m done with them,” she angrily said.
Two Liberians residing in South Africa, Jacob Dahn and Alfred Woyee blasted past administrations for failing to elevate the education of Liberians and blamed past leaders for the current lack of national progress and ability of Liberians to move beyond tribal and sectarian election.
An announcement is expected shortly on the names of the two candidates who will contest in the run-off elections for the Presidency.
Reporting by Timbo Ngozi in Lagos Bureau and James Paye in Monrovia