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THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN: THE RECONFIGURATION OF THE LIBERIAN NATION MUST NOW BEGIN.

BY JEREMIAH J. KRINGAR HARRIS

On October 11, 2005, Liberians began the journey from a past of utter mayhem and national incontinence, to a future, though uncertain, yet replete with great possibilities and promise as the nation seeks to reclaim its domain on the landscape of history. The historicity of this great trek must not be lost on our people, for we now traverse a pathway that puts us on the course for a collision with the divine forces of predestination. The end result, for which we cannot have foreknowledge, being mere Mortals, is foreordained by the Higher Power who charts the course of human history. My ardent prayer is that this will augur well for the reemergence of our nation as a body politic and that the Powers That Be would intervene on behalf of our woefully forsaken nation in order that it may reclaim its rightful place on the stage where the drama of geopolitical theatrics is articulated.

In compliance with the Electoral Laws of our nation pertaining to Presidential Elections, which mandate that in the event of the failure of any candidate to obtain at least 51% of the votes in the first round, there would be a second round between the two candidates with the highest number of votes, a final round was held on November 11, 2oo5. The contestants were, as expected by most analysts, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and George Opong Weah. The second round, it is now needless to say, was as fiercely contested as the initial round which was won by George Weah in a field of 22 candidates.

However, events in the second round took a dramatically surprising turn, given the strategic errors of Weah's campaign Generals, who committed a sin which is cardinal within the context of the modern political process, by falling prey to the crafty ploy of the Sirleaf campaign strategists to politically define George Weah. Whenever this transpires in a political race, as was Weah' plight in the second round, the victim of this strategy almost always loses, since he/she must now spend the entire campaign in defense and not in articulating initiatives and programs that would appeal to the passions of the constituents. Weah lost the elections, in a most resounding fashion, by 150,000 votes, due to this strategic error in judgment.

The onus for this gross miscalculation, of course, must rest with Weah and his key lieutenants for wrongfully assuming, after their victory in the first round, that the battle was won. The election was lost squarely, fairly and, in a fashion unprecedented in the annals of Liberian electoral politics for its vibrancy and transparency, leaving the Weah campaign with the recourse of concession, the only wise, honorable, noble and patriotic alternative under the circumstances, and given the scope and extent of Ellen's victory.

The fact that George Weah has unwisely chosen the route of confrontation by refusing to concede the elections, not only betrays his sense of judgment and ignorance of the true dimensions of the people's power in the process of democratic elections, but also reminds one of the asinine behavior of a spoiled brat, who, failing to have things his way, publicly displays a tantrum of temper that not only annoys his parents, but embarrasses them immensely, because it exposes their shortcomings in the rearing of their child.

In choosing to live in denial of his brazen defeat by claiming massive fraud, a sad figment of his imagination, Weah not only attempts to juggle the facts of the outcome of the voting, but also succeeds in embarrassing his advisors, the nation, and Africa, which, due to the penchant of its politicians for bizarre peccadilloes, is haunted by a reputation of being the abode of sour losers, who stop at nothing in their quest for power. This is a sad commentary and conveys a negative image of African politicians that, if left unaddressed, stands to compromise the intent of politicians who are honest. Supplementary to the foregoing, Weah's refusal to come to terms with the realities of the elections, poses the danger of further polarizing a nation already deeply divided by 14 years of internecine squabbles.

Must patriotic Liberians allow themselves to fall hostage to Weah's puerile behavior and apparent blind ambition? I cannot countenance that this will happen. George Weah is now left with the choice of seizing the moral high ground by conceding the elections in the interest of the people whose welfare he claims to care about, or continuing his obduracy and losing the esteem with which he is held by many patriotic Liberians.

For 14 years, Liberians have craved the presence of the Dove of peace in their midst. That moment, it would appear, has now arrived as the Dove hovers on the horizon with the divine message of peace firmly clasped in its golden claws, waiting for the final signal, from the tower of divine intervention, to descend with enduring peace for this war shattered land.

At this point in our national experience, revisiting the era of conflict is not an option if the nation must move forward. Hence, Weah must yield to the will of the people if he truly loves this nation. These elections, you must understand George, are not about Ellen Johnson Sirleaf or you, but rather about the future of Liberia and its survival as a nation.
It is in this mood of hope for the future of our nation, that I urge George Opong Weah to take off the jacket of intransigence, don the robe of reconciliation and ascend the throne of national unity in the interest of the nation. Weah must do that which is honorable and concede, because on the horizon looms a new era of peace and hope for our nation that must not be upended. Any action to the contrary would be a disservice to our war stricken people. This golden opportunity for peace in our nation must not be squandered as the privilege might prove elusive the second time around. History, we must remember, proceeds in a sequence that knows no pause for human errors.

To Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the indefatigable Iron Lady, while offering you a hand of friendship, I commend you for the level of sophistication and genius with which your campaign was waged. Your resounding victory attests to this Herculean effort. Truly, you merit the honor of being Africa's first elected female leader. Like most Liberians, I wish you well.

Now that Liberians have given Ellen the mandate to lead our nation for 6 years, I urge that we rally around our new leader, irrespective of political affiliation, in view of the extraordinary monumentality of the tasks ahead as the survival of our nation hangs in the balance. Liberia's existence as one nation indivisible is linked not to an affiliation with political party, but rather to our responsibility as Africa's oldest Republic, and heirs of the burden of disproving the age old adage that the African is incapable of governing himself, an excuse of convenience used by the agents of imperialism as they colonized our continent and subjugated its peoples to blatant brutality and dehumanization. Today, the wounds inflicted on the pride of the
African people remain largely unhealed. .

For our nation and the new leader, the road ahead will be rough and the challenges difficult and unenviable but not insurmountable. However, with the concerted and unselfish efforts of all Liberians, it is my ardent prayer that the nation shall wake up in time from the dream of a new day to the reality of an era of new vistas of progress. Nevertheless, Liberians must realize that this cannot be accomplished in the absence of reconciliation.

To her credit, and based on the weight of recent statements attributed to her, the new leader seems to grasp the significance and gravity of reconciliation to stability in Liberia. This augurs well for the success of her administration in finding solutions to the problems of the nation.

In view of the aforementioned, I propose the following: (a) that a conference of national reconciliation be held within the first three months of the new administration, with the venue being the border that divides Grand Gedeh from Nimba County. The venue is symbolic of the concern of most Liberians that reconciliation between the peoples of these two counties would be the harbinger of reconciliation among all Liberians, for therein lies the primary source of the problems that induced an era of conflict in our nation. (b) That our new leader be given a grace period of 18 months to begin to effect the changes necessary for the reconstruction of Liberia and not 6 months as she recently suggested. (c) That a request be made to the Security Council of the United Nations to hold the Peace Keeping Force in place for at least 18 more months. (d) That in order to ensure that peace prevails in the region; Veteran Diplomats are selected to man our Diplomatic Missions in the nations that are our immediate neighbors, Sierra Lone, Guinea, and The Ivory Coast.

Finally, I must assert that, in as much as we the people have given Ellen Johnson Sirleaf an overwhelming mandate to manage the affairs of our nation, we must now bear the ultimate burden of ensuring that she succeeds in her efforts to reconfigure our shattered nation. The bottom line is Liberia's survival, not Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, George Weah or any of the contestants. The people have spoken; let us now begin the reconfiguration of our beloved patrimony.