MONROVIA – To ensure that the country does not go through the risk of electing sick and mentally unstable leaders in the ensuing general elections, a civil society group named and styled, the Movement for Better Liberia (MFBL), has called on Presidential and Vice Presidential aspirants to undergo standardized medical tests and psychiatric evaluation, given the current scenario wherein some politicians are said to be afflicted with known health problems which could pose serious implications for the country once they are elected. The MFBL has cited as classic examples in the cases of Unity Party Standard Bearer Joseph Nyuma Boakai and Madam Sara Beysolow-Nyanti who is reportedly tipped to be a running mate to one of the political parties’ presidential aspirants, but is yet to be formally unveiled.
According to a May 2, 2023 press release from the organization, the public is concerned about the health issues facing some presidential and vice-presidential aspirants, a situation that could negatively impact governance should in case such aspirants ascend the higher public office.
The group said, based on public concerns that are being flagged over the health issues confronting the Boakai and Madam Beysolow-Nyanti, it is equally important to alarm the situation because the country could be thrown in serious predicament if a leader is elected but could not discharge their functions due to poor health conditions, a situation that could lead to bureaucratic conundrums for the governance processes.
Making specific reference to Unity Party Standard Bearer Joseph Nyuma Boakai who has been battling health issues, and Madam Sara Beysolow-Nyanti who is widely reported to has been tapped by one of the political parties to serve as a running mate to its presidential candidate. Although her selection is still hush-hush, the UN envoy said to be terminally infirmed. MFBL says such a scenario poses serious risks for the country’s body politics if either one of these aspirants gets elected and cannot function due to ill health.
“At 78, besides his frail physiology, Mr. Boakai himself confessed publicly on the Spoon TV Network some time ago that he has a heart condition that causes him to visit his doctors in the United States at intervals. If he is elected as President, it will be a burden on the nation’s resources and the governance system as well, thereby facilitating cabals and cronies to hijack the government with reckless abandon.
“Imagine how much of public funds have gone into solving the health challenges of our leaders overseas, while state-run health facilities hardly work. It must be said for good measure and fairness, a complete health report will help to avert such dangers. There is no problem in being sick, it is only fair to let the people know during this crucial electoral process so as to allow the voter to make informed choices.
“Every role has job characteristics and specifications. The role of the president of a country is not an exception for any reason. The job of Liberia’s president is stressful because of the myriad of problems affecting this country which must be addressed. The role of the President is far too important to be delegated to the second-in-command in the instance the chief executive falls terminally ill and can no longer exercise his/her constitutional duties,” the group said.
For Beysolow-Nyanti, the group said it was worrisome hearing about her health status, which they did not disclose but cautioned that the position of vice president is not an ordinary position, and as spelt out in the constitution, the person who occupies the position is required to assist and perform roles delegated to them by the president.
“You cannot be medically unfit to perform in those roles. A deputy to our president must be medically sound and mentally alert because you are just next in command and it will not augur well for the country if such person will not be ready in case of any eventuality,” the group said.
The group lamented that it was unfortunate that there are no legal mandate compelling candidates to undergo medical and psychiatric evaluations, thus exposing the country to dangers at the hands of sick and mentally unfit politicians.
“A lot of people have argued that health is a personal thing and we respect such arguments, but we must admit once you decide to serve the nation, your health report must be made public. We will never ask for the health record of a private individual, it’s akin to stupidity. But with the new Presidential campaign season in full swing, with aspirations and projections, it is only fair for Liberians to be fully aware of what we are dealing with health-wise. It is incumbent on the people to enunciate the need for a medical report submission, because the people always bear the brunt of the medical conditions of our leaders.
“One of the conditions for recruitment into public offices in Liberia is health. Yet, the National Elections Commission (NEC) guidelines for the selection and fielding of candidates have no provision for health status. This is a serious omission. Even if it does not form a condition for disqualification, the nation needs to know who they are wagering their future on,” the group said.
“We are not going to relent with their advocacy as we will be reaching out shortly to the country’s international development partners to convey our concerns to them,” the Movement for Better Liberia stated.