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Liberia: Democracy Gains Strength

Liberia’s democratic journey took a great and historic leap on Friday, 17 November when a sitting government conceded defeat in the November 14, 2023, Presidential Runoff Election and called its supporters to disengage and return to normal life.

This happened despite the now defeated Coalition for Democratic Change going all out in massive campaigns across the country both in the first and second round to seek a second term at the ballot box.

But incumbent President George Manneh Weah, who had sought another six years in office, did not get the mandate from the Liberian people.

However, unlike many of his contemporaries in the region that imposed themselves on the people by hijacking power, he bowed to his main challenger, former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai.

President Weah congratulated Amb. Boakai late Friday last week for winning the Presidential Runoff Election, while telling his supporters and partisans that the election is over and it’s time that they move on with their daily life peacefully.

The President’s response is not only magnanimous but something that is very rare in recent history of West Africa, for a sitting President to yield to the popular will of the people after they have spoken at the ballot box.

Like his predecessor, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who took Liberia from war to peace, Mr. Weah will go down in history for not just consolidating the peace, but upholding the democratic path by conducting free, fair and transparent elections in which he competed, lost and conceded.

West Africa, particularly ECOWAS has a lot to learn from the Liberian elections and make sure it is replicated in countries going to elections in order to consolidate democratic governance in the region. Most importantly, the 2023 elections in Liberia were totally conducted by Liberian themselves without involvement of any international group.

The country’s pro-democratic institutions should be applauded for standing tall in making sure that Liberians exercise their franchise in a peaceful atmosphere, void of threats, intimidation and all out violence that could cut short civilian rule and revert the state to its dark days.

With former President Sirleaf setting the pace of peaceful transition from one democratically-elected administration to another, her successor President Weah had no choice but to continue on this path that has won him immense admiration not only in the region, but the entire Africa and the global community.

The National Elections Commission of Liberia headed by Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah deserves high commendation for delivering a truthful verdict after hearing the choice of Liberian voters, who they want to govern their affairs in the coming six years. Madam Lansanah and the NEC Board of Commissioners performed excellently amid challenges such as capacity and logistics, and direct confrontations.

In its all, Liberians should lift their heads high as a proud people for taking a nation that suffered 14 years of bloody civil war thru four democratic elections and coming out peacefully, proving doomsayers wrong that this country was poised to disintegrate again into pieces with blood spilling in the street. In the same vein, this country remains grateful to international partners that stood by the people of Liberia in making this happen.

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