Subject: 2023 Elections Are More About Your Legacy

Your Excellency:

Our “Memo to the President” page had been on sabbatical for a while but we now reactivate it owing to two reasons—firstly, we are celebrating 25 years of our existence, a journey we fondly cherish and sustain, and secondly because this year’s celebration coincides with the holding of elections that not only end your first six-year tenure but also in which you are a contestant. The exigency of the purposes for today’s memo therefore bespeaks our grim determination to upholding the virtues of democracy, peace and freedom that underpinned the motives of our birth a quarter of century ago and continue to propel us through this period.

We tender this memo because our 25 years of existence and active newsroom activities have brought us too close to a wide range of national stakeholders and national events that leave us with a vast knowledge on national political issues as they particularly concern the welfare of ordinary Liberians. It puts us in a better position to flag issues of concern, to set the agenda for national discussion and proffer solution necessary to settle intractable conflict issues.

We can admit to the fact that your administration has done quite well in sustaining a space for peaceful coexistence, for pluralistic democratic interplay and stability and harmony. Your administration has been quite tolerant to dissent and your enactment and signing into the law of the Kamara A. Kamara Bill decriminalizing free speech is quite a significant move to ensure greater democracy and freedom.

We also take note of your demonstrable obsession for providing and/or improving critical social services to ordinary Liberians. In the last nearly six years, the nation has born witness to the construction of several paved roads in urban and rural communities, expansion of Liberia public electricity grid, building market buildings and hospitals and free tuition in public universities and colleges, amongst other things.

With guns and conflicts being silent for the period of your administration, despite isolated minor by-elections feuds, Liberia is well on the brink of setting a good record in its 176 years of existence—sustainable democracy and national peace. Liberia is setting an exemplary democratic credential on the continent of Africa where sustained democracy is a luxury in many countries.

While your immediate-past predecessor, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, takes some credit in ushering this culture of democracy and tolerance after long years of brutal armed conflict, the onus is particularly on you because, for your case, our nation was scrapped naked all the direct international responsibilities enjoyed for three decades at the point of your incumbency. Already, your administration is on record, without foreign troops and largess as it was in the past, for conducting several by-elections that were hailed generally and widely as free, fair and transparent.

In the case of the 2023, once again without the enormous logistical, monitoring and financial support of the international community, the country is going for crucial elections in which you, yourself, are on the ballot. This is your first major test—a serious prism that is poised to bring out the genuineness and honesty of your character as a true leader, an avid democrat and obsessive Liberian patriot.

We call on you, therefore, to live up to the true meaning of your public assertions regarding your commitment to democracy, peace and stability. Do not forget, Mr. President, that this year’s elections are about you, as a person, and your legacy as a leader. While it is true that every Liberian, mainly national political actors have inescapable parts to play in all this, the larger onus is on you. The nation is watching and history is waiting to treasure your legacy, depending on what the outcomes of the elections will be—whether Liberia’s democratic credential will be harnessed, advanced and sustained or whether  it will be retarded and regressed, back to the dark old days. In either of the ways, it is you—George Manneh Weah—that stand in the limelight of damnation or celebration.

You would therefore do well, Your Excellency, were you to assume a more national leadership posture—a posture that eschews heavy partisan mindset and which supports fair play, an even playing field, and non-interference with the electoral management body. It is when you do these that a genuinely free and fair elections will be possible, and this troubled country will move on with our heads up in the comity of nations beating our chests that we are no more a problem-child but rather a pace-setter in the free, democratic world.

Thanks for our attention.

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