Liberty Party Seeks Clarity Over Clinton’s Endorsement of Ellen’s 2nd Term


02/10/2010 – Nat Nyuan Bayjay, nbayjay@frontpageafrica.com ( 231-77-402-737

Source: http://www.frontpageafrica.com/newsmanager/anmviewer.asp?a=10603&z=3

A NATIONAL PROBLEM: Gabriel B. Smith( Representative, District #4, Grand Bassa County), the House’s Committee Chairman on Elections and Inauguration said in a statement issued in Monrovia Wednesday: “Should the comments of Secretary of State Clinton remain hanging in the balance, subject to the manipulation of the ruling party, the conduct of the 2011 Elections has already become a national problem, the consequence of which may not help our collective drive for peace and stability in Liberia.”

Monrovia – A member of the opposition Liberty Party says the recent endorsement by U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton of a second term quest by Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf poses a national problem for the peace and stability in Liberia.

Gabriel B. Smith( Representative, District #4, Grand Bassa County), the House’s Committee Chairman on Elections and Inauguration said in a statement issued in Monrovia Wednesday: “Should the comments of Secretary of State Clinton remain hanging in the balance, subject to the manipulation of the ruling party, the conduct of the 2011 Elections has already become a national problem, the consequence of which may not help our collective drive for peace and stability in Liberia.”

Clinton while addressing a town hall meeting with reporters and employees of the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C., to commemorate her first year in office said last month that she was delighted to hear that Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said she will stand for reelection. “She has been one of the champions on this issue in her political and governmental career,” she said regarding the efforts of the Sirleaf Administration to eradicate gender-based violence and inequality in postwar Liberia,” Clinton declared.

On Wednesday, Representative Smith said in the aftermath of President Sirleaf’s declaration of intent to contest the 2011 General and Presidential Elections, the Executive Mansion was quoted by the Liberian Media as saying the Secretary of State of the United States of America, Her Excellency Hilary Clinton, greeted the President’s expression of interest in the 2011 polls with an air of approbation. Smith further said that a day or two later, the Embassy of the United States of America through its Ambassador, Her Excellency, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, issued a statement confirming Secretary Clinton’s comments about President Sirleaf’s declaration. “But even before then, Ambassador Greenfield was herself quoted in the media as saying there was nothing wrong about the President’s declaration. That was immediately following the delivery of the President’s Annual Message to the National Legislature,” Smith declared.

The lawmaker says he is urging all well-meaning Liberians including opposition political parties, members of the civil society and all members of the civilized community to join the Liberty Party in calling on the United States Government to provide the needed clarification as the absence of such will not only undermine the 2011 Elections but also impede the entire Democratic process in our country.

Smith said he only hope that Liberians and its international partners will appreciate the burden that would be imposed should the post-war nation falter on its commitments to bequeath to the generation of young Liberians yet unborn, a peaceful environment where children will have a place to be called home. Said Smith: “As we now discern in the national debates, some trigger-happy elements of the Ruling Unity Party have begun to assign different shades of interpretations, insinuating that the Government of the United States of America has already endorsed the candidacy of Madam President Sirleaf, and are even posturing that America will do business with none other in contemporary Liberia, but Madam Sirleaf.”

The lawmaker argued that while it is understandable from the standpoint of mature diplomacy that the Government of the United States would not be seized with the pettiness of local politics of this nature, and should not first of all unsuspectingly avail itself to same, either by admission or omission, considering the fluidity of Liberia’s political environment and knowing that contested election results in most parts of Africa constitute a primary source of conflict with serious national consequences, it would serve a good purpose were the State Department of the United States of America through its Embassy near our Capital, to address itself to the exact nature and meaning of Secretary Clinton’s comments on President Sirleaf’s second term bid.

Seeking clarity

Smith furthered that there are two key reasons why the Liberian People would need more clarity on the Secretary of State’s disposition:

The United States Government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing Seventeen Million United States Dollars (US$17,000,000.00) in assistance to the National Elections Commission to facilitate free, fair and transparent elections as a major step in the consolidation of peace in Liberia. This assistance of the United States Government comes against the backdrop of many years of civil conflict significantly ignited by dissatisfaction over election results.

The announcement of the $17M assistance was made during Clinton’s one-day visit to Liberia last year as the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that her government supports all aspects of democratic governance. Clinton said at the time that economic progress depends on good governance, adherence to the rule of law and sound economic policies. Clinton further noted at the time that it was critical to have an electoral system that is credible to produce free and fair elections by 2011 and warned that the world is watching and her government takes a personal interest in the 2011 elections. She said the US government hopes the next election will ensure a peaceful transition and set legitimacy for future elections.

But on Wednesday, Representative Smith said one cannot overemphasize the crucial role that the Government of the United States would have to play, as Liberia’s traditional partner, in seeing to it that the 2011 elections serve as a significant milepost between the eras of inordinate quest on the part of incumbent leaders to retain power at all cost, and a new dawn marked by peaceful democratic transition where losers and winners can live together with a common national agenda for progress.”

Smith said Liberians have not come to believe, and never will they come to the conclusion, that the destiny of this nation rests solely in the hands of a self-ordained benefactor, the absence of whose leadership will mean a demise of the state, as we are being made to understand by President Sirleaf and some of her loyalists and friends.

The lawmaker also took issue with the fact that in endorsing Sirleaf, the U.S. did not take into consideration that the President and others are subjects for recommended sanction and prosecution by the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Said Smith: “The United States is a country whose commitment to the rule of law and the promotion of human dignity has remained an all-time tested example for the rest of the world. That Government and other members of the international community facilitated the crafting and sponsorship of the TRC with millions of dollars of their tax payers’ money. To date, the report and recommendations of the TRC remain stalled on the altar of petty national politicking. We are yet to arrive at a national decision regarding the implementation of the Recommendations contained in the Report of the TRC (notwithstanding specific mandate to the President for the implementation of the recommendations).”

The lawmaker wondered why a senior official of the United States Government would respond in such hurried manner to the declaration of an individual who, for all practical reasons, would not pass the national test of qualification to contest the next elections without first disposing of her status as an indicted person as contained in the TRC’s report! “On the other hand, are we to believe, by the nature of Secretary of State Clinton’s intervention in this crucial national debate, that the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission must be thrown into the dust bin of history?”

Smith cautioned that the issue is being raised as apprehension arises in many quarters of Liberia that carry an air of resignation in so far as it concerns citizens’ participation in the 2011 General and Presidential Elections! “Our people are beginning to reason that the results of the next elections will be stage-managed by the United States Government, judging from Mrs. Clinton’s comments. Hence, they may be disinclined to commit their time and energy to the processes leading to the conduct of the 2011 Elections, let alone participate in that event. This certainly is a troubling development for a society that is striving to recover from many years of conflicts superimposed by bad governance and manipulated election results.”

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