Monday, October 10, 2011

Liberian Election

On Tuesday, October 11, Liberians will go to the polls again to vote for their next president.  It's hard to believe that six years have been passed since we were present in Liberia for the 2005 elections.  We had moved to Liberia about ten weeks before that election and it was a pretty crazy time.  Hannah and Noah were twelve and ten, and they had to file a report for their homeschooling homework (to read it, click here).  At the time, Hannah was not very happy being in Liberia and I remember that we had an opportunity to go out with an American working with the US army involved in doing some interviewing at the polls.  I made Hannah go and despite resenting it then, I think she now appreciates being part of that election process. 

This year there are 16 candidates - 13 men and 3 women, however there appear to be three front-runners.

Ma Ellen
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is one of the frontrunners, despite her promise to only run once, as well as her current age of 72 (should she win, she will be 78 at the end of the next six year term).  She has also survivied the recommendation of the TRC for her to stand down due to her early support of Charles Taylor (when ousting Samuel Doe), and most recently a constitutional provision that states that presidential candidates must have lived in the country for ten years - this was waived for the 2005 election.  Her award of the Nobel Peace Prize on October 7 gives her added publicity on an international level, but has brought a wave of fire at a local level.

Winston Tubman
The next frontrunner is Winston Tubman, the nephew of former President William Tubman, currently 70 years old.  Tubman ran in the 2005 presidential race, but emerged with just 9% of the vote in the first round.  This time he has merged his party with former front-runner and soccer star, George Weah, who is running as his Vice-Presidential Nominee.  He received his law degree from Yale and his graduate degree in Economics from Cambridge University.  Both Tubman and Weah have been very harsh in their criticism of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, stating to the BBC after the announcement of her winning the Nobel Peace Prize that she is a "war-monger."  Didn't win any points from me on that one - sounds like sour grapes.

Charles Brumskine
The third front-runner is Charles Brumskine, the youngest at age 60.  He also ran in the last election, and was the third most popular (after Weah and Sirleaf-Johnson), receiving 14% of the vote.  Brumskine is also a lawyer.

Results of this election will take two weeks to compile, so the announcement of the winner is not expected before October 25.  If none of the sixteen candidates receive 50% + 1% of the vote, there will be a runoff election on November 8. Please keep this election in your thoughts and prayers.  We hope and pray that this election will be peaceful and orderly, that the citizens of Liberia will exercise their democratic right to vote, and that the results will be accepted. 

By the way, the other winner of the Nobel Peace Prize from Liberia, Leymah Gbowee, is the woman from the video, Pray the Devil Back to Hell.  We have been promoting that documentary because of the great role of advocacy that these women played.  When we moved to Liberia in 2005, these women were still there praying every day, at the Fish Market, outside of Monrovia.  It's a great documentary to watch, if you get the chance.