Since the 2017 elections which culminated into the victory of the presidential ticket of the Coalition for Democratic Change, most Liberians particularly politicians are still in their combative moods. The victory has kept the victors extremely excited and the defeat has still apparently kept the vanquished overly bitter. The clash of the aftereffects of the elections has kept the Liberian state restless and the citizenry upset. One statesman who has sensed the contrasting moods and their impact on national stability and development is the country’s immediate past Permanent Representative to the United Nations, former Information Minister Lewis Brown. He tendered an open letter to the citizenry, not only pointing to what he called a noisy country and toxic politics floating national peace and harmony, but also imploring all citizens to overcome the belligerence and contribute to national unity, peace and development. The Analyst reports.
Recently, it was reported that President George Manneh Weah was opting for a national conversation towards diffusing political tensions in the country and tap on the wisdom of all Liberians across the aisle toward ensuring national stability, peace and development.
Other Liberians are equally concerned. And it true for former Information Minister and former Liberia’s Permanent Representative Lewis Brown.
In a two-paged open letter to the people of Liberia, Ambassador Brown observed “that our society is becoming too noisy, and seemingly, too disagreeable.”
He said Liberia’s civil discourse and common decency are being lost and with the loss, “the character of our politics, rather than uplifting, is becoming increasingly toxic, and plagued with negativity, repudiation and suspicion.”
Distrust is high, and strangely, friends are too easily settling for enmity, Amb. Brown asserted, adding that “Our public discourses are wilting into exchanges of intolerance as we grapple with a seeming resort to lawlessness and disrespect to assert a claim.”
Rather than a search for higher grounds and an appeal to our better selves, he noted that “we are quickly degenerating into lowering standards of self-destruction, political division and fear. Shockingly, we have seen this play out before, and Liberians have all paid dearly for it.”
The Liberian former Information Minister further observed: “From places of worship to social media platforms, the increasingly unmistakable impression is to wish the worst for each other, and even worse, to wish the worst for our country. We are quickly losing a sense of shared achievement and common purpose, even for our country. We brazenly exude the impression that for one to win, the other must necessarily lose.”
He said what Liberians seem to be accepting is an attitude that pervades the worst, and not the best in each of us, and our country.
“I had imagined this to be a temporary phase which was perhaps occasioned by a long and grueling electioneering process that understandably strained our division along lines of political associations,” Amb. Brown said. “As such, I have tried to still my voice away from it with the hope that it would eventually pass. Unfortunately, it appears to be worsening. We cannot continue this way!”
He also observed: “With obvious painful reminders, our experiences have shown that the growing division and enmity we are feeding – consciously or unconsciously – inevitably leads to our collective self-destruction. Against the backdrop of this historical truth, we cannot permit any grievance or discontent to again usher us onto the certain path of our collective self-destruction.”
Contentious as the electioneering process may have been, Amb Brown said, all Liberians need to understand, and accept, that it is over.
“It is time to move on,” he cautioned. “Whether we won or lost, the people for whom we ran, and ourselves, are hurting by the challenges to our economy, and the increasing discord in the country.”
Amb. Brown said Liberians needed a stark reminder that their projected economic growth of the country has been lowered by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), saying that this is a wakeup and rally call for all Liberians.
“Our country is in a difficult place, and the difficulty affects all of us,” he said. “Quite simply, opposition and ruling authorities alike ought to demonstrate a level of seriousness about these presenting challenges, and be so deeply engaged with each other in the national search for workable and sustainable solutions from which the country is certain to benefit. This, therefore, cannot be the time to trade blames, foster disunity in the advance of a common purpose, and or lend our thoughts, voices and actions to divisiveness, and ill-will toward each other. This, certainly, is not the time to permit the pursuit of illegal means to achieve political ends. None of us can afford this!”
In aiding any serious efforts toward economic recovery, as a prerequisite, our country needs political stability, the former Liberian Envoy noted.
Including that of our own, history teaches us that political instability and creeping lawlessness can only worsen economic woes.
Amb Brown noted: “The same is also true of our history in its harsh reminder that ‘Us Versus Them’ is a certain recipe for our collective failure. It does not really matter if you consider yourself to be ‘US’, or to be ‘Them’, we are all in the same battered canoe, battling the rising tides of a tempestuous ocean, and destined to drown, together, on the silliness of our divisions, or sail along on the strength of our unity and commitment to work together.
“Therefore, in governing and in opposing, what we must seek to foster, especially at this time, is a deepening sense of “Us AND Them”. As history repeatedly shows, this enables nations to harness the fullness of their potentials, and to successfully tackle and overcome the presenting challenges in bridging differences, and in building more sustainable societies.”
Regarding Sawyer’s Intervention
The Liberian diplomat said he was hopeful about the fact that “we have a chance to self-reflect, and self-correct,” reflecting over what he heard of the appointment of Dr. Amos C. Sawyer to lead an effort toward the convening of a national dialogue.
“Although I am unaware about the details around this, it appears to me to be a right and welcoming thing to do,” he said. “My hope is that a national dialogue will afford the opportunity for serious, open and broader reflections on the lingering issues of division, and recommit us to those things that ought to unite us.”
Said Minister Brown, “Indeed, we may not altogether solve the dysfunction of our economy at a national dialogue. However, and hopefully, we can be meaningfully resolved on a sense of shared ownership of our presenting problems, and its solutions. We can march forward, and will ourselves to meet our national difficulties, not as divided as we are but as one people bonded by history and destiny, and knowing that each obstacle to our collective advance affects all of us irrespective of perceived political, religious, gender and tribal differences.”
He added: “Our simple truth is that a better Liberia – one committed to the rule of law, and unburdened by the colored lenses of partisanships – benefits all Liberians. Ruling and opposition, we must bring ourselves to recommit to the building of that better Liberia for ourselves, and for our children.”