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Blogs: Liberia Elections Editorial
Liberia's Political Candidates Should Provide Voters With A Plan/platform
Tuesday 2nd August 2011
It is inspiring to know that democracy in Liberia is alive and kicking. For a country that has experienced a recent violent past, it is a laudable effort. And it deserves some recognition. The first major multi-party elections took place and the current leadership of President Sirleaf came to power under the auspices of the Unity Party.

The pending elections – as early as October 2011 – have again produced an array of candidates in various political parties to contest. It is interesting that within each political group or party, the central focus is on the person – the man or woman – seeking the high office of President. There is, in other words, the “personality cult thing” going on in each of the political party or group. My focus, however, is not to discuss the issue of personality cult or the idea of personality cult as a major factor in African political framework, but to rather challenge the candidates to respect the Liberian voters.

Knowing that democracy in Liberia will continue to inspire the young and old to seek political office – since that is a national appetite of any people – the Liberian people are usually left in total abeyance as to what they (the candidates) will do to “improve” the country. Also, Liberian voters do not know from these candidates how one is different - in terms of what each has to offer as alternative – in relation to another candidate. Of course, the campaign is in “full swing.” What ever “full swing” means, it is impossible to tell what a candidate says he/she will do for the country. No candidate, including the current regime which is the incumbent, has given a clear plan or platform how their party will bring about the needed changes that are prevalent in Liberia.

It seems like what it means to be in “full swing” then is to actually “campaign,” but not say anything about plans, platform, etc. The Liberian voter should simply look at the person, for example, the “Oldma” or “Tubman” or “Brumskine, etc. and vote “yes” or “no” on that basis. That is not how democracy is supposed to work. Even though campaign is in “full swing” the Liberian voters have no idea what a second term of the Unity Party will be like.

Whether only Unity Partisans at home and abroad will get jobs, or whether Tubman maneuvered his way to “revenge” since his uncle ruled the country for twenty seven years of “growth without development.” Or no body knows why Brumskine is running at all. No clear focus from any of these I tentatively consider the big three in the elections. All Liberian voters are hearing is “noise”, “accusations”, “chattering,” “press shows,” not press conferences, etc. None of the more than twenty five plus political parties or grouping, including the ones I have already cited, provides voters with a definite plan as to what one will do differently from the others.

The Liberian voters do not expect that those who are seeking the high office of President or other offices such as Senators, Representatives, etc., will be deceptive in the wanting to be in those positions. Unless a candidate understands his or her role in the position of choice, running an aimless campaign, as we are seeing, will be like going in a vicious circle. So, I contend that political candidates owe Liberian voters a clear cut plan for how they intend to use their six years in office.

The flourishing of democracy in Liberia does not require the quantity of political parties or groups. Democracy does not flourish just because political parties merge without any clear cut objectives, other than defeating a candidate they (the merging political parties) think is bigger. In this context, such political mergers are only degraded to the lack of focus and self confidence.

In the context of political party mergers, there are no plans, except the “defeat of the Unity Party,” as the CDC and Liberty Parties among others, have claimed in this election. The lack of, or the multiplicity of political parties in a country does not necessary indicate democratic growth. It could also mean that some people learn the act of conniving, and choose to disguise themselves as a political party, or it could further mean that the bigger picture is centered on winning an election, but not focus beyond that. In these cases, what we see is the limitations of the democratic process, in that these features skew the actual intentions of the candidates, and they leave the voters in the dark.

In order to promote democracy and to ensure a serious political machinery that can stand the test of time, as well as win public opinion, each candidate, regardless of his or her desired position, should provide voters with a clearly defined platform that will serve as an agenda that the voters can hold the party accountable to. To have numerous “goal less” candidates parading as saviors, liberators, etc, will not help the voters, unless they know what a party or a candidate will do, and how are they going to do it. Let the candidates tell the voters what is at stake should their party win the elections.

Democracy cannot succeed in Liberia if candidates don’t have the courtesy to tell the people voting for them, what is at stake. The people you hope to govern deserve a plan by which you will govern them.

My challenge is to each presidential candidate and anyone else seeking elected public office to provide, perhaps in brochure or tract forms their plans, programs, indicating what they hope to do if they were the winners. Otherwise, it is no telling what a party will do if it wins. Those who have ears to hear let them hear.

Pianapue Kept Early
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