Monday, November 7, 2011

Opposition boycott of polls dominates Liberia Media


On the eve of Liberia second run elections, most newspaper lead with the news on Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) boycott of the elections, The New Republic main front page story reads "No Turning Back – CDC Insists On Staying Away From Runoff" The Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) has dug in the heels and tacitly taken a'' no turning back posture'' not to participate in the runoff elections for reasons shrouded in failure of stakeholders to consider its grievances and concerns. Ordinary Liberians, envoys of foreign missions accredited to Liberia, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and many others have been encouraging the CDC to relinquish its demands and return to the status quo but to no avail as the party has made it clear it would only participate if its demands were met; something many see as being too swallow. Cllr. Winston Tubman who was invited to Abuja by the Chairman of ECOWAS, Nigerian president Good luck Jonathan, told the nation Saturday that the party's position was irreversible, stressing '' the CDC will never reward fraud by taking part in the runoff election. If he the party does, according to him, it will be tantamount to granting legitimacy to what he described '' a corrupt history. Mr. Winston Tubman, the CDC'S standard- bearer has called on Liberians to give up their franchise; their rights to vote.

In the same vein, CDC standard bearer Tubman on why his party is boycotting run- off elections was the lead of Front Page. The paper wrote: I have just returned from Abuja on the invitation of the Nigerian President and Chairman of ECOWAS. I am grateful to him for the seriousness with which he continues to treat the current Liberian electoral situation. I believe we had a frank exchange of views. The contact between us continues. As we approach Nov-8-2011, the bulk of the CDC's complaints of voting irregularities that marred the Oct-11-2011 ballot remain unaddressed. After the resignation of Mr. James Fromayan, the flawed infrastructure remains intact at the national elections commissions, NEC. In our last press statement we said that the removal of Mr. Fromayan was an important first step in the process toward transparency, does resolve all the significant issues. With barely four days to Nov-8, we officially inform the Liberian people and the world that the CDC cannot participant in the Nov-8 ballot.  We call on all CDCians, well-wishers and Liberian to stay away from the polls on Nov-8. Any government coming out of the Nov-8 process will be one without a national mandate to govern and will not be recognized by the CDC.

Following the trend of boycott stories, the Heritage lead with "ECOWAS: CDC's Statement to Boycott- Run-Off Election Unfortunate". In this story the Heritage reports that The ECOWAS Commission says its attention has been drawn to an undated press statement titled ''CDC Final positions on the holding of elections on Nov-8-2011'' and issued on 4 Nov-2011 by Ambassador Winston Tubman, standard bearer of the congress for Democratic Change(CDC), in the aftermath of a meeting held a day earlier in Abuja with Goodluck Jonathan, president of Nigeria and chairman of the ECOWAS Authority. In the statement, Ambassador Tubman informs about the withdrawal of CDC from the 8-nov-2011 presidential run-off election and calls on CDC followers and Liberians in general to stay away from the poll, citing  unaddressed CDC complaints about voting irregularities in  the course of the first round of the  election that took place on 11-oct- 2011. The ECOWAS Commission regards this statement as unfortunate, as it is intended to undermine the election and the democratic process that Liberians are striving hard to consolidate. It also goes against the grain of the discussions that Ambassador Tubman held with the Chairman of the Authority. In that meeting, the chairman advised the CDC leadership against boycotting the reminder of the electoral process, and impressed upon them that it was too late in the day, and quit against the relevant ECOWAS Protocols, for the CDC to demand changes that would require a consensual constitutional process of amending relevant electoral laws.

Subsequently, the chairman strongly urged Ambassador Tubman and all Liberians to endeavor to fully participate in the run-off in order to ensure a credible outcome and assist in the consolidation of democratic culture in the country.

According to the Heritage, writing the under headline "Ellen, Tubman Clash", the paper indicated that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has accused the standard- bearer of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), Cllr.Winston Tubman of violating the Constitution by calling on CDC partisans to boycott Tuesday's president run-off polls.

 The presidential run-off is between the ruling Unity Party (UP) and the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). The presidential run-off election is triggered by the failure of any of the 16 presidential candidates who participated in the Oct-11 presidential and legislative elections to win an absolute majority (50% plus 1) of the total valid votes cast as enshrined in the Liberian constitution. According to the constriction, which is regarded as the organic law of the country, if no candidate obtains an a absolute majority (50% plus 1) of the total votes cast in the  presidential race, them a run-off is necessary.


In Profile also contribute to boycott dominating the Liberia media on the eve of the second run presidential elections with " Face Off " headline, the paper reports that the runoff presidential election in Liberia is expected to take place tomorrow November 8th, amidst a deadlock that has kept a participating opposition party-CDC threatening to boycott the process. CDC refrained from allowing its vice standard Bearer George Oppong Weah participate in a runoff debate with UP Vice presidential Candidate Joseph Nyumah Boakia on Thursday, Nov-3rd in  Monrovia, something observers said was a slap in the face of the process.

'' The political spirit we enjoyed during the first round of legislative and presidential elections has diminished  because the exercise has become a one team show,'' a disappointed Liberian told the IN Profile Daily Friday evening in central Monrovia.  Fanatics of UP have been heard claiming that CDC is afraid of defeat to get into the race, but critics have argued that if the ruling UP was in the opposition camp it would insist in the same form and manner especially when there are grounds to hold and put forth preconditions before taking part in the process.





The Independent also reports that "America Not Happy With CDC" the paper said according to a US Government, '' as evidenced by international and domestic observers, the October-11 first- round presidential and legislative polls were fair, free and transparent. We are supportive of moving forward with the Nov-8 election as called for by the National Election Commission (NEC). Participation in elections is a fundamental part of democracy. We commend all Liberians for their peaceful participation in the elections, and encourage all Liberians to exercise their political voice and vote on Nov-8,'' the statement noted.

Accordingly, the US government has commended leadership of ECOWAS for their important contributions coupled with the role of UNMIL in promoting security during the electoral period as well as working with all sides to protect the integrity of Liberia's democracy.

The US government including the international community has reiterated their commitment to sent observers again to monitor the election process as resorting to violence is unacceptable.


In spite of the boycott, Front page is quoting the ruling Unity Party candidate and president asking voters 'GO OUT AND VOTE'.  The standard bearer of the ruling Unity Party, UP President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has called on all eligible voters in Grand Bassa County to turn out and vote in the November 8 Run-off elections.

''we want to say to you, Nov-8, your constitutional right is to go out and vote, that's the one thing you have in your constitution. Nobody can take that one from you because when you get behind that screen, that's just you and your God and your conscience; and you go and vote the way how you want to vote. Don't let somebody deny you that one,'' President Sirleaf urged the Bassa people to vote for a better Liberia and the future of their children. She expressed gratitude for the support given her by the Liberty Party strongman Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskin. President Sirleaf said, we are going to continue to work for the democracy that so many have suffered for and we are going to continue to build institutions as political parties. Cllr. Brumskine and I have talked about that, we want to make sure liberty party retains itself, that liberty party grows in strength, that liberty party is prepared to compete in other elections.'' Speaking to citizens of grand bassa at the fair ground in Buchanan during a last minute campaign, president Sirleaf reminded them that Liberia is for all Liberians irrespective of their political affiliation.

Cllr.Brumskin urged his  supporters to  commit themselves in ensuring that president sirleaf is  reelected by  turning out to  vote come Tuesday Nov-8,2011. After the first round as you know I met with president sirleaf and I committed that I would support her in the second round. I did not stop there, I came to Grand Bassa County on Wednesday, went on the radio, spoke to all of the bassa people, met with liberty partisans and I said to you this is not our time, this is the time of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,'' he said.

The Daily Observer lead with news on the preparations for the runoff " Run-Off Set for Tomorrow" it reports that despite a boycott planned by the opposition Congress for Democratic Change CDC, the national election commission has vowed to go forward with a run-off tomorrow to determine the country's next president.

CDC standard bearer Winston Tubman announced the boycott on, immediately sparking a strong reaction from incumbent president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of the Unity Party.

Last Saturday, at a press conference at CDC headquarters in Monrovia, Tubman responded by accusing Johnson-Sirleaf of trying to intimidate him and of violating his right to free speech. '' There is nothing in our laws that compels Liberians to vote or not to vote, and to call upon them to vote or not to  vote is  no violation at all—it is an expression of my free speech Constitutionally guaranteed''. He added that the president's statement ''makes people feel that an effort is being made to silence me, to intimidate me, to make me afraid to speak what I believe needs to be said.

Assessing the conduct of upcoming second run presidential elections, The News lead with : ''No Plan To Disrupt Election'' The paper indicated that Congress for Democratic Change CDC standard bearer Cllr. Winston Tubman has trashed newspapers report that partisan of the CDC have planned to disrupt Tuesday's presidential run-off. There are media reports that CDC loyalists have planned to prevent people from voting on Tuesday by throwing stones at voters who would turn out.

The CDC has said it would not participate in the run-off election and has called on all its partisans and supporters stay away from the process. But Cllr. Tubman in an interview on Sunday said he is not aware of any plan to prevent people from voting on tomorrow. He explained that there is no plan bye the CDC to disrupt people of their legitimate rights to vote. '' I have no intention to call on my supporters to go and interfere with the right of people because when we start to do that, violence would be provoked and we don't want violence,'' he said.

We conclude our review for today with The News which lead with "ECOWAS Will Recognize Runoff Results If…………" The news said the Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS has reiterated that it will recognize the verdict of the Liberian people arising from the 8 November presidential run-off election provided, ''the preparations and conduct of the second round of the presidential election are adjudged by the competent authorities and endorsed by credible observers to be in accordance with the electoral laws of Liberia.''

The ECOWAS position statement on the pending run-off election was contained in a release from Abuja, Nigeria following reports that the opposition Congress for Democratic change CDC of Ambassador Winston Tubman had maintained its threat to boycott Tuesday's poll. In view of the CDC's continuous boycott threat, the ECOWAS Commission said it deeply regrets the retrogressive tone of Ambassador Winston Tubman's statement, which seeks to disrupt the concluding phase of the 2011 presidential election. The commission has however said it has launched a final appeal to the CDC, and all Liberia stakeholders, not to miss '' this historic opportunity of consolidating democracy and peace in the country, and to actively participate in the 8 November poll.''

This daily news review is compiled by African Elections Project (AEP) Media Monitoring Center at LMC, Monrovia, Liberia.

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