Liberia’s Path toward Democracy
On January 22, 2018, newly elected Liberian president, George Weah spoke to his people about a future of peace and democracy. Weah, a soccer legend, pledged to fight corruption winning the hearts of many. However, to keep trust between him and the citizens of Liberia, words must manifest into reality.
The historic election marked the first peaceful transfer of power since 1944. President Weah was supported by the newly formed Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) party and set out to defeat the incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai who was endorsed by the Unity Party (UP). Winning 61.5 percent of the national vote, Weah’s election was a major victory for Africa’s oldest republic.
Founded by emancipated slaves who realized that integration would not be an option for them in the United States, Liberia proclaimed its independence in 1847. Encouraged by the American Colonization Society, they migrated to the foreign land with hopes of liberty and democracy. Liberians today continue to fight for the same rights. Weah explained this during the inaugural speech saying, “Many of those who founded this country left the pain and shame of slavery to establish a society where all would be free and equal. But that vision of freedom, equality, and democracy has not yet been fully realized.”
Since its founding, Liberia has experienced constant suffering and hardship. The government has proven itself to be unstable and corrupt, and abuse of presidential and military power led to one of the bloodiest civil wars in world history that lasted from 1989 to 2003. Many of the soldiers in the war were children, and more than 200,000 Liberians lost their lives during the conflict. With pressure from the United States and aid from the United Nations, the war was stopped and President Charles Taylor was exiled. A new Liberia was on the horizon.
After two years of interim government control, democracy emerged with the election of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. She became the first woman to be elected as an African head of state on the promise of leading Liberia into an age of prosperity. Even though she successfully laid the foundation for peace, corruption allegations and poor handling of the Ebola epidemic, caused citizens to lose faith in President Sirleaf and the Unity Party.
President George Weah came along as the people’s champion winning the election after running against the former President Sirleaf in 2005 for president and 2011 on the CDC’s ticket as vice president. After all the pain, suffering, and corruption the people of Liberia remain optimistic about the future of their nation. They’re depending on President Weah to lead them towards the light. In the past, war and corruption limited Liberia’s economic growth leaving it one of the poorest nations on earth. Peace, transparency and a government for the people is the medicine Liberia needs to spur economic prosperity. This election should serve as a model for all countries in Africa and around the globe. Liberia is a democracy that is in the ascent.