Written by: G. Shardrick Bloyue
In Liberia’s journey, it stands at a pivotal moment, caught between its past and its aspirations for the future. The article, “A Maturing Democracy, The Pathway to Liberia’s Growth and Development,” is a call to action for a nation that has overcome challenges and is now poised for progress. As we navigate the complexities of governance, Liberia’s evolving democracy isn’t just a political system but a catalyst for transformative change. This piece explores the details of a maturing democracy and its significant role in shaping the nation’s path toward lasting growth and development.
FROM CRISIS TO DEMOCRACY:
Liberia has seen tremendous progress in the last 20 years. Following the civil war, the country elected President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2005 — the first democratically elected female leader in Africa. Over her 12 years in power, the country worked to expand opportunity and build its economy. Sirleaf’s tenure was far from problem-free, with accusations of corruption and nepotism and criticism over insufficient poverty reduction clouding her legacy. In 2017, Weah went on to win a resounding victory, with over 60% of the vote. The former soccer star, challenged Sirleaf on two occasions without success, but with Sirleaf stepping down, he finally received the support he needed. Weah defeated the sitting vice president and several others. He took over the presidency with only minimal experience in public service, but with a large margin of victory as a possible mandate for making change. The 2017 transition was a monumental step towards sustaining Liberia’s democratic governance.
WHERE DOES LIBERIA STAND?
Liberia conducted a tightly contested national elections on October 10 and presidential run-off elections on November 14, 2023. The incumbent president George Weah conceded defeat before the final pronouncement by the National elections Commission, after a tight run-off against the opposition candidate and former Vice President, Joseph Nyuma Boakai. This action on the part of President Weah marked a notable peaceful transition of power at a time when many West African countries have endured a resurgence of military coups, manipulation of presidential term limits, and elections plagued by allegations of misconduct. Liberians will experience their second peaceful transition of power on January 22, 2024, at which time President Weah will officially turn power over to Amb. Boakai. Indeed, the challenges ahead of Liberia are vast, but the successful peaceful transition of power for the second time in well over a generation is no small feat. It is a resounding testament to the resilience of the Liberian people and yet another example of the tremendous impact of foreign investment toward Liberia. Like President Weah mentioned at ECOWAS submit. “Liberia’s democratic credentials have been reaffirmed by the peaceful conduct of the just ended elections.” With all of these positive political achievements, Liberia stands a chance of accruing economic benefits to foster national development from its many international partners and respectability from countries in the sub-region. Liberia, as a mother of Africa has once again raised the bar of democratic governance and it is now incumbent upon leaders of the ECOWAS region to emulate.
The 1980 coup and subsequent 14 years of civil conflict in Liberia reversed the gains the country made in sustaining economic growth, development and democracy; as it citizens remain amongst the poorest people in the world (Global Finance Magazine, 2023).
Now that Liberia has once again demonstrated the leadership of democratic governance on the African Continent, and if the Country continues to improve in civil liberty and rule of law, the Country is indeed poised for progress.