Farce and Tragedy— the tale of the political marriage between Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and George Manneh Weah
The hierarchy of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) consists of the elites that emerged from the victimization of the long years of exploitation of the human and material resources of the country and unlike in some countries in the Global South where the elitist caste of the poor mass of people are enlightened, progressive and conscious, the ones in the CDC do not have the slightest thought about the principal contradictions of an underdeveloped neo-colonial society and how these contradictions can be resolved. Neither are they aware that their duty is to organize and educate the mass of people against neo-liberal capitalism which has kept countries on the continent backward and that there is a dying need for building a new African society that places premium on the African people instead of mortgaging all the productive forces of the continent to foreign interest.
For the elements in the CDC, the ascent to national leadership is not about exercising power in ways and means that address the neo-colonial imbalances and open the path to social transformation. They exploited the anger and hatred created among the people as the result of the contradictions generated by Ellen’s subscription to neo-liberal capitalist diktats which gave mighty foreign corporations ownership of the economy’s commanding heights and commoditized public goods such as education, healthcare, electricity, port, etc. etc. This exploitation of popular anger was the surest way to attain political power not to transform society but use the neo-colonial framework distortedly to also gather obscene wealth while the people wander in poverty and exclusion.
Worst of all, the party’s political leader who is now President is a chap who blew off the money he made from playing football in Europe and had long been itching for an opportunity to once again wallow in the splendor of wealth. The party, without ideological and political clarity, is built on two fabrications. A sort of the cult of the personality built on the footballing popularity of George Weah, and on the illusion that he is from the slum and will therefore seek the interests of the people languishing in Bantustans and squalors. Such short-sighted approaches where personal popularity substitutes for ideology and delusion compensates for radical programmes are the two recipes that have kept the regime stagnated since its capture of state power in 2018. Suffice it to mean there is a socioeconomic backwardness where there is no conceptual framework and well-defined policy prescriptions - we are not referring to the plagiarization of so-called policy papers of the Ellen era, but policy framework based on the understanding of the imbalances in the society.
This is the social caste Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and others who frustrated the hopes and aspirations of our people and country for 12years (the congenital fate of a typical national bourgeoisie in a neo-colonial state) thought necessary to have imposed on the country through the conduct of a farce of an election in 2017. One may wonder why these people decided to gamble with the destiny of a country in such a fashion. Casting the shadow of light on Ellen’s maneuver, it would be important that one lowers his/her fascination with the media craze about historical second and peaceful transfer of power since 1944, as those pale in comparison to the exigency of a free, fair and transparent election. The tendency to highlight those aspects distorts focus from the fundamental question of whether the election of George Weah was a product of a genuine democratic process. Before going further, emphasis is made of the fact that democratic election is a pivotal pillar of democracy. However, it must be underscored that while that is true, supposedly “democratic” states produce undemocratic elections that are not the reflection of the popular will of the people, but the individualistic craving of the ruling elite.
Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf could not allow the country to slide in the hands of a more refined and patriotic camp because such group of people would outdo her with their brand of a bit of progressive politics which would not only make her insignificant on the political stage, but also expose her contradictions. For individuals who exude with such rabid narcissism, that plays a key in decision making. Although this camp would have maintained the features of neo-colonial capitalism which are incapable of ushering in social transformation due to its adherence to neo-liberal economic methods and theories, it would have used the constitutional structures in place to expose and not pardon the colossal looting of the public treasury by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her cabal. Without an assurance of impunity of her inequities and key elements of her cabal, she became ultra-emboldened to support Weah who provided her that carte blanche of impunity.
Of course, she dreaded the country drifting into the hands of a radical and progressive camp that have got the historical itinerary, studied the problems of development and underdevelopment in the Global South and the pillage of the periphery in terms of capitalist domination and worldwide accumulation, the role of the neo-colonial state in enforcing and entrenching the exploitation of the global South by multinationals, the class in the state which produces wealth and can lead national transformation, and the other which sabotages popular policies and serve self-serving and foreign interests. Such radical progressive formation would not have only introduced popular grassroots democracy and a national economy that is placed at the service of the people, thus breaking the back of senile neo-colonial capitalism and all its superstructures. Ellen and her accomplices would have been f put before a commission of inquiry to account for their stewardship and obviously be prosecuted for turning the homeland into a veritable profit making machinery for a breed of social elites that do not see their future in Liberia but elsewhere in Europe and America.
Ellen and her poodles scorned the latter the most. They could not afford being subjected to a judicial commission of inquiry as they had committed the country to so many shady deals. Ellen did not want her son Robert Sirleaf to be investigated for the bankruptcy of the National Oil Company (NOCAL). She did not want an independent audit of the US$ 13million the EU provided to her government to fight maternal mortality in 2013 - a fund which was siphoned by Former Finance Minister Amara M. Konneh on the order of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
While the people perished as the result of economic deprivation, millions of dollars were used for not only international Public Relations to clean up the blemished image of the narcissistic Ellen Johnson Sirleaf but huge lobbying money was given to foreign firms to award Ellen with international accolades such as the Nobel Peace Prize. She dubiously bought shares in the three biggest hotels (Farmington Hotel, Royal Grand Hotel and Boulevard Palace) and gave these hotels tax incentives, thus depriving government of the needed revenue. She did not want these and others like the shares she has in Liberty Gold Mining Company and MNG Gold Mining Company as well as the APM Terminal deal to be subjected to investigation by a more credible government.
So for Ellen and her henchmen, it was a necessity to throw their lot behind the wretched of the earth in the CDC and dump her Vice President and long-time friend who contested the Presidency on the ticket of the then ruling Unity Party. The CDC’s 2017 Presidential campaign was bankrolled by the camp of Ellen. She used budget lines in the National Security Agency (NSA) to divert money from other spending entities such as the Executive Mansion Renovation Fund to funnel hundreds of thousands of United States Dollars to the CDC during the height of the election campaign. The CDC of George Weah benefited significant portion of the billions of banknotes Ellen ordered her son and cronies at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) to print without legislative approval. Amara Konneh and Robert Sirleaf were the chief errand boys that executed most of the plans carved by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
A fraudulent final voter roll used by the NEC on the order of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf provided a comfortable lead for the CDC in the first round of the election. She bribed members of the Supreme Court Bench to rule against the Liberty Party in the latter’s petition for rerun of the election on claims of massive fraud and irregularities. It is an open secret that Associate Justice Kabinah Ja’neh was the lone Justice of the Supreme Court who rejected the Ponzi scheme of the “Fist of Machiavelli” in Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, an act of patriotism and respect for the rule of law for which he was witch hunted by legislative thugs and gangsters of the CDC and had to endure the humiliation of a kangaroo impeachment which borders on theatrics.
Senator Prince Johnson of Nimba County was bribed by Ellen to pledge support to the CDC to provide a cover-up for the rigging of votes in Nimba County. Many officials of the UP led government including Medina Wesseh, Milton Findley, Eugene Nagbe, Florence Brandy, etc. were convinced by Madame Sirleaf to support her preferred candidate, George Manneh Weah in the second round of the 2017 Election. Ellen did not attend any of the campaign rallies of the Unity Party but towards the climax of the campaign, she invited the standard bearer and vice standard bearer of the CDC to a ground breaking ceremony in Bong County. Prior to the event in Bong County, in an interview with CNN’s Christian Amanpour, Ellen disclosed that she would be transitioning to the younger generation. Of course George Weah is far younger than Amb. Joseph Nyumah Boakai, and that statement was made after the deal with the CDC had been agreed and consolidated.
Unity Party (UP) and the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) went into the runoff election with little or no changes made to the fraudulent final voter roll. The fraudulent voter roll was never cleaned by the NEC as mandated by the Supreme Court in its ruling. Amara Konneh, in collaboration with Robert Sirleaf, printed excess ballots and pre-marked ballots in Ghana and transported them to the hard-to-reach South Eastern counties to inflate the votes of the CDC. Amara and Robert had to be at the center of these ploys because their records in public service are tinted by fraud, plunder and profligacy.
According to the results announced by the National Elections Commission (NEC), Amb. Weah obtained 596,037 or 38.4% of the first round total votes while Amb. Boakai obtained 446,716 or 28.8% of the total votes in the first round of the election. Thus, they became qualified for participation in the runoff. The runoff’s result is where the chicanery of Ellen is clearly seen. According to the NEC, Weah’s CDC obtained 732,185 or 61.5% of the total votes cast, indicating that extra 136,148 Liberians cast their votes in favor of the CDC’s candidate in the runoff. The same result says that candidate Boakai obtained 457,579 or 38.5% of the votes indicating that just a paltry 10,863 extra votes were added to the UP’s first round votes. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, acting through Chairman Kokoya told the entire world that the UP candidate received just 10,863 extra votes in the presidential runoff election.
How possible could this be when candidate Boakai received numerous endorsements during the runoff campaign? How possible could it be that Weah won 14counties and Boakai won just one county? How possible could this be when most Liberians who were fed-up with the Ellen led Unity Party had truly seen that the individual who led the 12year banditry had shifted alliance to the CDC? How possible could it be that the runoff turnout was almost similar to the first round of election when the country has a history of voter apathy in runoff elections and poor turnout to the polls by Liberians was vividly observed throughout the country especially in the rural areas where the peasantry had no interest in the election?
We cannot negate here that George Weah and his CDC did have support among the people. Apart from Weah’s celebrity status and the fact that he grew up in the slum, neo-liberalism and its accompanying consequences of wealth for mighty corporations and their lackeys in national government as well as the grinding poverty of the people created the conditions for a percentage of the population to run with the perception that Weah had the magic wane to change their social condition. This group was so determined to make him president that even if Ellen had conducted a credible election, Weah would have still advanced to a runoff.
But as it has been proven in two previous elections, it is at the runoff that the rest of the voters who voted other candidates in the first round have always rallied around his opponent to resist the disaster of a Weah’s presidency. His abysmal three year performance at the Liberian Senate, the disorganization of his party and his alliance with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the latter part of her administration reinforced the reasons to cement this mobilization of the people against the possibility of George Weah presidency. It was this process that Ellen inhibited with her political manipulations and imposed George George Weah on the country in 2017.
Political power was never rationed by the popular, free, fair and transparent participation of the mass of Liberian people. It was rather negotiated on the table by a clique of conservative politicos to reflect and protect their parochial interest which dominates and out-powers the principles of fundamental and social equality in Liberia. Any revolutionary take over which is committed to changing the socioeconomic and political dynamics in Liberia must not only occupies itself with overthrowing neo-liberalism which promotes inequality and the division of our people on tribal and religious lines. The social revolution must also retrieve stolen wealth and investigate the 2017 Elections to expose the criminal orchestration of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her cabal.
Moses Uneh Yahmia is a progressive political activist and a recent graduate of the Department of Political Science, University of Liberia. He can be reached [email protected]
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