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 “Putting Our Country and People First and Burying the Ugly Past”, An Open Letter to Liberian Civil Society

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PostSubject: “Putting Our Country and People First and Burying the Ugly Past”, An Open Letter to Liberian Civil Society   Wed Mar 09, 2011 6:05 am

Dear Leader:


October 2011 will mark Liberia’s second and most significant
democratic elections. This landmark election year would test the
strength and viability of our democracy. As a country and people, we can
either succeed or fail, depending on what we do now as citizens, but
more importantly, as political leaders. Our country is relatively new to
Multiparty democracy. Our real experience with multiparty politics is
no more than 10 years old, and this has not been quite promising. When
the country first experimented with this process in 1985, and again in
1997, it suffered huge political and institutional setbacks.


Over the long history of our country, we have watched with
dismay and utter regret the chronic failure of successive governments to
exercise a genuine commitment to the democratic and economic
transformation of our nation. Our people have witnessed different
political elites promising a national vision of economic and political
inclusion, only to see their hopes and aspirations repeatedly betrayed
at the altar of personal economic greed and political tyranny. But after
almost a quarter of a century of one-party rule, military rule,
autocratic tyranny, and civil war, when the socio-economic and political
fabric of the country was shattered, an estimated quarter million of
the populace decimated, thrusting our national development efforts
almost 50 years backwards, Liberia fully emerged from its ugly past,
supported by tremendous international goodwill, to hold its first
successful historic elections in 2005.


The challenge confronting all Liberians now is what we need to
do to sustain this success we have had so far since the 2005
elections. With Multiparty politics, we need a new political culture, a
new kind of politics- one characterized by compromise, trade-offs,
institution and consensus-building, and finding areas of inter-party
collaboration on issues of common interest, with the aim of deepening
our democracy and putting our country and people first.


We, the members of The Coalition of Liberian Professionals for
Grassroots Democracy (COL), a policy and research-oriented think tank
and advocacy group, comprising Liberians of a diverse range of
professional backgrounds, believe that this is the right moment for
political parties to put aside their differences and unite around the
crucial issue of ensuring a free, fair, transparent, and credible
elections. The COL believes that based on what has transpired during
this pre-electoral process, particularly the Voters’ Registration
Process, it has become abundantly clear that the National Elections
Commission(NEC), the body responsible for managing the October 2011
elections, has itself become a problem and has therefore, totally and
completely lost the trust and confidence of the Liberian people. The COL
views this commission in its current composition as not having the
moral credibility to conduct free and fair elections come October (See
COL’s Statement of The Voters Registration attached).


Considering the viability of our nation’s democratic future, we
all have a stake to work together to save our democracy and not allow
history to repeat itself! That is why Leaders of various political
parties and the broad Liberian civil society must now come together and
unite around this issue by calling for the reconstitution of the
National Elections Commission. Leaders must insist that such a
commission comprise Liberian men and women of enviable moral character
and integrity, who have demonstrated an independent and nonpartisan
interest in Liberian politics. The COL strongly believes that the
current composition and leadership of the NEC has lost the trust and
confidence of the Liberian people, and as such must be replaced. The COL
believes that this is one time that leaders can demonstrate a show of
unity by speaking together in one collective voice on this issue that is
at the heart of our national survival.


There is no escaping the truth that when the time comes, you as
political and civic leaders must be able to answer the question
tomorrow: What did you do to fix what was wrong when the country
teetered on the path of a political crisis? It is our hope that you will
be able to look straight in the eyes of your children and grandchildren
and tell them that you did the right thing to save this Republic.


Finally, as a policy and advocacy group, the COL is prepared to
avail itself to facilitate a collaborative process amongst all
political parties and civil society groups on this issue we believe cuts
across partisan, ethnic, religious, and sectional lines. The COL
strongly believes that this is a national issue that all of us must own
as Liberians! The COL believes that self-correction is one of the
highest moral qualities of humankind. We have this chance to do so and
let us not blow it away!





For liberty and justice for all, we remain, In The Interest of our Country and people,





Respectfully,





James Kpanneh Doe


ACTING EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COL





Isaac T. Settro


DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COL
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