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-Threaten uncivil reaction, if!

By: Jerromie S. Walters

When Liberia’s international partners hear its name, one of the first things we are remembered for is the years of bloody civil unrest. This is so usual because they all are aware of the disastrous sequel and how it cost the International Community about Ten Billions United States Dollars (USS10, 000,000,000).

At a recent rally in Grand Bassa County- Liberia’s former Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai controversially gave the Unity Party’s (UP) position on any attempt by the ruling establishment, to rig the October 10, 2023, presidential election. According to him, if the current government effectuate any attempt to rig the presidential election, it will be the end of the country.

“If they think they’ll steal this election, you will not allow it because if you do it, that’s the end of this country. We are not going to allow that to happen,” Amb. Joseph Nyuma Boakai articulated.

As expected, scores of supporters of the Unity Party (UP) have openly confined in the statesman’s troubling disclosure, and committed themselves to making Liberia unstable, if they suspect an act of electoral fraud in the pending process.

It is not a secret that Liberia has struggled with a long history of civil war and instability, and the country has made significant progress in recent years towards peace and development. However, like what that was displayed by a major political leader recently, the mere thought of Liberia returning to a state of conflict is a haunting reminder of the devastating consequences that war brings. 

There should be absolutely no reminder for any Liberian to understand the potential ramifications of Liberia descending into another war as well taking into consideration the urgent need to maintain peace and stability in the country.

The potential threats by the standard bearer of the Unity Party (UP) and other opposition leaders, can clearly be seen as a major attempt to beat and echo war drum. Accordingly, Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Boakai and any other Liberian should firstly consider the different consequences that are attached to the return of Liberia into another war, before beating war drums.

Pres. Weah’s reaction

At an event late Saturday, September 23, 2023- following his return from the United Nations General Assembly, President Weah recommitted himself to a peaceful election, says Liberia will not return to its dark days. He said, “there will be no more rebel checkpoint” and Liberia will be a peaceful country and that government will come and go.”

With this, he admonished Liberians to trust the existing peace, and discredit what he characterized as- “reckless statements” from political actors. The President guaranteed that comes October 10, 2023, Liberians will be afforded the comfortable, and peaceful space to vote leaders of their choice. 

This assurance- he said is backed by the fact that he is a man that takes care of his people. He says he has zero interest in disrupting the electoral process, as he’s convinced that he will be democratically re-elected. Moreover, he said, “They are telling you to look at 2005 and 2011 elections, are they telling us that the National Elections Commission (NEC) cheated?“ President Weah questions.

Consequences of Liberia returning to war

The most tragic consequence of any war is the loss of human lives. Liberia has already witnessed the horrors of two civil wars that claimed the lives of an estimated 250,000 people. Returning to war would not only result in further casualties but also exacerbate the existing wounds of the past. Families would be torn apart, communities shattered, and the country’s progress in rebuilding and healing would be undone.

If any Liberia is to echo war drums, Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Boakai should be excluded. This is because he’s highly aware that excluding the loss of lives, war has countless of demeaning consequences on a nation- including a profound impact on the economy of a country. 

Not just that, but even if instability is to be embraced because of election rigging or to satisfy his political interest, he- nor any other individual will have absolutely no means to enjoy the outcome of such an unpatriotic quest, if it comes with war.

Arguably, Liberia has made significant strides in recent years to attract foreign investment, improve infrastructure, and stimulate economic growth. However, a return to war would reverse these achievements, leading to a collapse of the economy. Foreign investments would be withdrawn, and the country would face a scarcity of resources, exacerbating poverty and unemployment.

Not just that, but with the known fact that war forces people to flee their homes in search of safety, resulting in a significant increase in internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees. Liberia has already experienced mass displacement during its previous conflicts, with thousands of people seeking refuge in neighboring countries. A return to war would lead to a new wave of displacement, straining resources and burdening neighboring countries that may not be adequately equipped to handle an influx of refugees.

Moreover, war often gives rise to a humanitarian crisis, with limited access to essential services such as healthcare, clean water, and food. Liberia has made progress in improving these services since the end of its civil wars, but a return to conflict would disrupt these efforts. 

The most vulnerable, including women, children, and the elderly, would be disproportionately affected, facing increased risks of malnutrition, disease, and violence. Even from a regional perspective, Liberia’s return to war would not only impact the country itself but also have regional implications. Neighboring countries, such as Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Ivory Coast, have experienced their own share of instability and conflict. A resurgence of violence in Liberia could potentially spill over into these neighboring nations, creating a domino effect of instability in the region.

The consequences of Liberia returning to war would be devastating on multiple levels. The loss of human lives, economic collapse, displacement, and humanitarian crisis would undo years of progress and plunge the country into a state of turmoil. Furthermore, the regional implications of renewed conflict in Liberia would exacerbate instability in an already fragile region. 

Before, during and even after the pending elections, political actors must do all they can to abstain from acts that have the proclivity to create chaos. 

At this point where the country is, it is crucial for all Liberians, stakeholders, both domestic and international partners- to prioritize peacebuilding efforts, support sustainable development, and ensure that the scars of war are not reopened. Only by maintaining peace can Liberia continue its path towards stability, prosperity, and a brighter future for its people.

UP Clarifies

In a statement on Sunday, September 24, 2023, the Unity Party clarified that their political leader’s statement was not prompted by an awkward motive.

“When UP Standard Bearer Joseph Nyuma Boakai (JNB) says if the elections are rigged, there would be no country, he is NOT saying that he and his supporters will  wipe out the country. What he is saying in effect is set against the backdrop of the terrible performance of the Weah government over the past years – complete disregard for our Constitution and laws (unconstitutional impeachment of Kabineh Janeh,etc) , excruciating poverty, extra-judicial and ritualistic killings, broad-day corruption, the KUSH-epidemic facilitated and enabled by Weah and operatives of his government that is essentially wiping out the young generation of Liberians and depriving them of a decent future.”

The UP says, “In essence, rigging elections will place the country in the hands of incompetent, wicked, corrupt, and visionless George Weah for 6 more years, and the downslide and retrogression that would ensue as a result, are tantamount to not having a country. That is what JNB meant and that is why he is asking partisans and supporters of the rescue mission to protect their votes to prevent our dear country from sinking further into the hellhole created by Weah and his cronies.”

“JNB is a statesman and a man of peace.  In fact, despite repeated utterances and insinuations from the CDC and its operatives that they are entitled to a second term, hook or crook, and despite public concerns about the manner the NEC is proceeding, JNB continues to give the commissioners of NEC the benefit of the doubt.”

Mysteries of Liberia civil unrest

On December 24, 1989, Liberians and Foreign Residents listened to the most heart-breaking and disturbing news on the BBC, that Mr. Charles G. Taylor, leader of the defunct National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), reported that he and his rebel group had entered Liberia by way of Nimba County, in a Town called Butuo, situated on the Ivorian Border with Liberia to unseat Former President Samuel Kanyon Doe and his NDPL Government. This news went throughout the length and breadth of the Country with fear and terror.

From that day on, the rebel war fast spread in the entire Country- and resulted to the assassination of former President Samuel K. Doe by the defunct Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) at the Freeport of Monrovia, when the former President was in route to leave the Country. 

According to International Statistics, Liberia bloody civil unrest cost the International Community about Ten Billions United States Dollars (USS10,000,000,000), as it destroyed the properties of citizens and non- citizens, including the Liberian Economy, which is still struggling.

Not just with this financial destruction, the unjustifiable conflict led to the death of 250,000 people; Liberians and non-Liberians, including the ECOMOG soldiers of the West African Peacekeeping force and Peacekeepers from the United Nations; amongst others.

Howbeit, after many attempts to resolve the civil crisis, several Accords were held but to no avail. Accordingly, on June 4, 2003, Eighteen Registered Political Parties, Civil Societies and Interest Groups under the leadership of ECOWAS, AU, UN and the International Community when to Accra, Ghana in order to find a peaceful solution to the Liberian Civil Crisis, through the Accra Peace Agreement on August 18, 2003.