MONROVIA: In 2023 dozens of Liberians who had private and public duties to improve the lot of the people of the country played their part in their speres of assignment and influence. They contributed variously in making life better and in ensuring peace and stability prevailed. On top of these hard working, selfless Liberians is someone whose stewardships averted what could have been a national catastrophe. And that President is the Chairperson of the National Elections Commission, Madam Davidetta Browne-Lasannah. Without her wisdom, leadership and adroitness during the year the country Liberia would not have peacefully and honorably docked on the solid shores of stability and peace. This makes her The Analyst’s Personality of the Year: “the Most Proficient Democratic Public Servant”.
Any well-meaning person will fully understand and appreciate the veracity and fitness of The Analyst’s conferment of the accolade of Personality of the Year: “the Most Proficient Democratic Public Servant 2023” on Commissioner Lasannah were they to listen to echoes beyond the country—the political and military hostilities and uncertainties near and far from Liberia and see how Liberia was blessed to have cruised through 2023 and how the stateswoman played the key role.
Right across the borders, whether it is in Sierra Leone and Guinea, citizens are on edge in terms of physical security and economic paralyses. Recent visitors to Sierra Leone paint the picture akin to Liberia’s terrible war days, when armed totting soldiers and militia roamed about in streets and communities. It has also been said that checkpoints litter about, every two mile stretch have a checkpoint, and citizens travel with their “guts in their mouths”. Fears mount, and peoples of those two countries are living dangerously, expecting an explosion anytime.
Little further beyond, there seethes militarisms if not gangsterism, taking place in Burkina Faso, Mali, Sudan. All these have their economic bites underpinned by bleak economic outlook that have roots in electoral politics.
For many of the countries around Liberia, 2023 was a nauseating year. It was disaster politically and economically—situations that emerged because someone having a fiduciary responsibility was egotistic, selfish and unpatriotic. Compromised elections, or something looking like it, created pretexts that their countrymen used to resort to pillage and cause mayhem and suffering for the rest of their citizenries.
Our honoree did not take those troublesome routes. She put country before her selfish interest or the interest of friends. This is why 2023 came and went, leaving the country intact and giving citizens reason to joyously celebrate the passing of the year.
The prophets of doom and gloom factored a Liberian stateswoman Davidetta Browne-Lasannah into the scheme of things. She was dismissed as being unable to stand the heat of a hotly contested national election.
The 2023 doomsayers, particularly from number of opposition camps, had perceived Madam Lasannah, Executive Chairperson of the National Elections Commission, as a ruling party protégé who was inclined to manipulate the elections in favor of contestants from the ruling party, mainly President Weah.
Many had thought that with the NEC, conducting the elections solely alone without the traditional lavish logistical and financial support of the international community, the grounds were fertile for the head of the Commission to railroad the process in favor of the ruling elite.
This was particularly given semblance of traction because the current NEC chairperson was appointed by the incumbent President, first as an acting chairperson and then full-fledged overseer of the country’s electoral management body.
But whether it was during the October general and presidential elections or the November 14 runoff, the NEC under her watch, despite logistical and financial challenges, confidently deployed thousands of elections workers and equipment, retrieved same in time, tallied and read results in the full glare of the public, including party representatives.
It can be recalled that Liberia’s political conflicts, including the 14-year civil war historically have defining moments and roots in elections. The 1979 mayoral elections, for instance, in which rallying opposition support confronted the entrenched True Wigh Party oligarchy fanned the flames of agitations that never quenched until the 1980 violent coup against the hegemony.
Also the 1985 elections widely believed to be massively rigged by the military junta-turned National Patriotic Party provided the compost for the “popular people’s uprising” igniting the most cataclysmic war Liberia has ever fought with itself. It can also be said that the 1997 elections and its results had a hand in the resurgence of the war despite the democratic process.
Elections that were conducted by other heads of the NEC in 2005 and 2011 witnessed from the opposition Congress for Democratic Change now Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), one of which was violent and led to the death of citizens.
During 2017 presidential election, which the CDC won, the results were challenged by the opposition political parties who went to the Supreme Court.
But the 2023 presidential elections that included the October 10 polls and the runoff held November 14 took place without any reasonable dint.
Indeed, 2023 unfolded and a ruling power grimly determined to extend its powers to a second term faced up with an ex-ruling party along with a satellite of other opposition parties, some thought the task was complex and sophisticated for Madam Lasannah, an appointee of the incumbent, to handle it successfully and expertly.
To the apparent surprise of the naysayers and to the delight of her supporters, the Harper progeny navigated the troubled nation through the turbulence in flying colors.
There were isolated cases of violence and a couple of legislative results facing contestations delightfully with incumbent party loyalists on the ticket. Every electoral matter has been peacefully handled by the security forces, or by the NEC or the Supreme Court.
Liberia has since been quiet, and peaceful. The storm has passed over. The winners and losers are on their lanes. Liberia has won, President Weah, the presidential loser says, as also acknowledged by winner, Joseph Boakai.
The 2023 presidential transition is the smoothest in years, previous ones occasioned by elections that were marred by protests and lingering law suits that nearly dragged the nation to the brink of constitutional crises.
Certainly, the NEC Boss passed the test. She wins the admiration of Liberians and international people and organizations. Thus she’s The Analyst’s Personality of the Year 2023.