About 2.5 million Liberians are poised to decide the political leadership of the country on Tuesday, six years after a peaceful democratic transfer of power from one political party to another. This vote is the fourth in post conflict Liberia.
Incumbent President George Weah is sticking with his Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor to continue the implementation of the administration pro-poor agenda for prosperity and development. Team Weah prides itself with the economic transformation amidst post EBOLA and COVID-19 pandemic shocks.
Weah, has pointed to his administration’s relatively successful efforts to curb inflation, which stood at 27 percent when he took office. He also makes frequent references to the infrastructure projects that have been launched during his presidency, while pledging more of the same should he win in October.
He’s upbeat about his performance relative to the delivery of basic social services and economic development, telling rival politicians he is still popular with the country’s 5.5 million population.
The football legend said he has nothing to prove to his doubters and that his quest for a second term is on merit based on visible evidence of his six years deliverables.
Weah said the overriding objective of his administration is to develop and transform Liberia, ensure that young people have a viable future and to be able to access areas they can congregate to recreate and sharpen their inborn skills.
Weah’s main rival in this year’s elections is the veteran Joseph Boakai of the former ruling Unity Party.
After nearly six years in opposition, Boakai and team are hoping to upend Weah’s rule, citing declining governance and its corresponding poor quality of leadership as tools for regime change.
Joseph Boakai said he is vying for the office of president for the second time to restore the lost image of Liberia and rebuild national institutions.
Boakai, 78 seeks to improve infrastructure, invest in agriculture, attract investors and open up Liberia to tourists.
Alexander Cummings, a businessman and former Coca-Cola executive is leading the Collaborating Political Parties, which encompasses the Alternative National Congress and the Liberty Party.
Cummings has promised to use his expertise from the business world to focus on and enhance Liberia’s private sector to generate revenue that can be deployed to other sectors, such as education and health care.
On May 27 Cummings selected Charlyne Brumskine, daughter of deceased politician Charles Walker Bruskine who founded the Liberty Party in 2005.
Cummings holds the view that several Liberians are living in unacceptable conditions of poverty and dying from preventable diseases despite the nation’s natural resource riches.
He blamed incumbent President George Weah for the current state of the country and claimed Liberia under Weah has become a ganister paradise ruled by thieves.
“All we will require is a new mindset of high integrity and a commitment to public accountability, which I will lead, by example, to fix the broken system,” he said.
Some key events in Liberia’s history as compiled by the BBC:
14th-16th Centuries – Decline of the Mali and then the Songhai empires, compounded with inland desertification, sees increased settlement in coastal areas.
15th-17th Centuries – Portuguese, Dutch, and British establish trading posts along the coast.
1816 – American Colonization Society (ACS) is formed with the aim of resettling former slaves in Africa. It believes “repatriation” is preferable to having emancipated slaves remain in the US.
1822 – ACS begins sending freed slaves voluntarily to establish a colony.
1847 – Constitution modelled on that of the US is drawn up, and Liberia becomes independent. It is politically dominated by the newly-settled incomers.
1917 – Liberia declares war on Germany, giving the Allies a base in West Africa.
1926 – Rubber production becomes backbone of Liberia’s economy after Firestone Tyre and Rubber Company opens rubber plantation on land granted by government.
1936 – Forced-labour practices abolished.
1943 – William Tubman elected president.
1951 – Women and indigenous property owners vote in the presidential election for the first time.
1958 – Racial discrimination outlawed.
1971 – Tubman dies and is succeeded by William Tolbert Jr.
1980 – Master Sergeant Samuel Doe carries out a military coup, ousting and publicly executing President Tolbert and 13 aides. Doe assumes full powers.
1984 – Doe’s regime allows return of political parties following pressure from the United States and other creditors.
1985 – Doe wins presidential election.
1989-97 – First Liberian civil war.
1989 – National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) led by Charles Taylor begins an uprising against the government.
1990 – Doe is executed by a splinter group of the NPFL.
1996 – Peace agreement between the rival factions. Some 200,000 people are killed in the civil war.
1997 – Charles Taylor wins presidential election. He sets up a totalitarian regime, supporting rebel groups in Guinea and Sierra Leone. In return, both countries start backing anti-Taylor dissidents.
1999-2003 – Second Liberian civil war.
1999 – An anti-Charles Taylor rebel group backed by Guinea, invades northern Liberia.
2003 – Second rebel group invades southern Liberia. Major fighting for the capital, Monrovia which is besieged for two months. Taylor goes into exile. Interim government and rebels sign peace accord. Some 50,000 people die in the war, which sees the widespread use of child soldiers.
2005 – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf becomes the first woman to be elected as an African head of state.
2007 – Charles Taylor goers on trial at The Hague, accused of instigating atrocities in Sierra Leone.
2012 – Energy companies report discovery of oil off the coasts of Liberia and Sierra Leone.
2012 – Charles Taylor is found guilty of war crimes for aiding and directing rebels in Sierra Leone. He is sentenced to 50 years in jail, to be served in Britain.
2013-2016 – Outbreak of Ebola virus in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, killing 11,300 people, almost half in Liberia.
2017 – George Weah wins presidential election, marking first peaceful transfer of power in decades.