DURING A POPULAR radio talk show interview last week, the United States Ambassador to Liberia, Michael McCarthy, shed the diplomatic pleasantries and pulled the bull by the horn. He called on Liberian politicians to act responsibly and patriotically in sustaining the budding democratic space. He pointed to vile attempts on the part of some political party leaders to create unnecessary tensions towards the 2023 presidential and general elections, particularly their inability to keep hostile partisans under control. The US Ambassador opined that failure by the political leaders to control their violence-obsessed partisans was inimical to democratic standards and exposes their inability to manage national affairs if elected to leadership.
WE CANNOT AGREE more with Ambassador McCarthy on this point. Towards the 2023 elections, Liberia stands at a very volatile crossroad—whether the country will sustain the gains of peace made in the last 19 years after military hostilities and harness its fledgling democratic credential or drift into a relapse to chaos and militarism. The political rhetoric vibrating amongst protagonists and the freehand being placed on temperamental zealots do eloquently flag and demonstrate all signs towards the latter, and it is only correct and timely that a clarion call is made to summon politicians’ sobriety and patriotic spirits, as the world nervously watch Africa’s oldest republic wends its way toward crucial elections.
POLITICAL DISRUPTIONS AND chaos bellowing all around Liberia in the sub-region, specifically in bordering countries, coupled with the expressions of sheer thirst for political power in this country, are sufficient reasons why all well-meaning Liberians must join Ambassador McCarthy to trumpet this message to Liberian politicians: we, Liberians, have had enough of war and conflict, and it is time to wear the democratic cap bearing the virtues of tolerance, civility and patriotism.
WE ARE ALL aware that elections by nature are disruptive, highly emotional and extremely combative. But let it be known that no one’s quest to obtain political power or job outclasses the exigency of national peace, democracy and harmony. Politicians in this country must take note of the fact that in this 21st century, the civilized global community largely celebrates and pays tribute only to those nations and peoples who rise from the fogs of elections and all the belligerent competitions it entails and back to the solid shore of harmony and peace. Liberia and Liberians have more to gain socially, economically and internationally in sustaining the culture of regular elections than in ruining everything only to satisfy the zest of a group of politicians.
THUS, WE JOIN Ambassador McCarthy to call on politicians, mainly leaders of political parties, to exercise the highest degree of tolerance and nationalism and to imbue these traits into their lackeys and devotees as the nation moves towards 2023. Just as those presiding over national leadership would desire an uninterrupted peace so should all those vying for leadership do. Because it is folly for anyone to engage in the attitude of call to arms while in opposition and turn out to be a preacher of peace when serving the leader. The fact is, a desperate seeker of power cannot tell how much of the country would be left after chaos before starting to lead upon ascendency to power.
LET IT ALSO be known to all and sundry that every aspect and every segment of this country is currently highly tender and fragile, and that any relapse to chaos and hostilities would be regretted by not just this generation but several others to come.
ONE CAN UNDERSTAND the frustration budding amongst politicians, mainly opposition elements, about what appears to be governance failure, and the appetite to intervene, and intervene now to fix. One also can understand the frustration amongst the ruling elites who seem to be fixing much of what couldn’t be fixed for decades and yet pestered with ingratitude and blind politics. One can understand the magnitude of the conflict subsisting between the opposition and the ruling elites, who despite lacking diametrical political philosophies, are only locked up in mere personality contests rather than ideological contests. But what we urge and very strongly in all this, and which certainly the Ambassador spoke about last week, is that all the wrangling, shenanigans and propaganda contests should be no witness to a resort to physical hostilities but to peace and harmony.
THE PATRIOTIC SLOGANS for all of us, henceforth, must be: Peace first. Peace last. Liberia matters. Democracy must prevail.
THIS IS OUR PLEA. And we hope someone is listening.
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