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Liberian President Sirleaf Beatable in 2011, Says an Opposition Figure

  • James Butty

Charles Brumskine of the Liberty Party says the president is less popular with Liberians and can be beaten if elections are free and fair

A Liberian opposition leader said President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf would be easily beatable if the 2011 presidential elections are free and fair.

Charles Brumskine, who came third in the 2005 election, said President Sirleaf has failed to reconcile the Liberian people and build the necessary institutions to sustain the country’s fledgling democracy.

Brumskine, who was in Washington recently said he and his Liberty Party have since 2005 been laying the groundwork for a re-match with President Sirleaf.

Charles Brumskine of Liberia

Charles Brumskine of Liberia

“After losing the elections in 2005, I did not leave the country. I remained in Monrovia, in Liberia. I worked with the people consistently serving as an alternative voice and constructively engaging the government. We have continued our scholarship for young people who otherwise would not have been able to go to school. I believe our presence has been appreciated because we have kept the government in check, reminding the government of its constitutional responsibility,” he said.

Brumskine said he will be announcing his candidacy within a couple of months.

“With regards to the funding, we will not compete with the government or the government’s party dollar for dollar. Our aim is to be viable and visible throughout the country,” Brumskine said.

He said once he has announced his candidacy, his campaign will be about issues and explaining his party’s vision to the Liberian people.

“Liberty Party vision is based on what we call the Four Rs – Reconciliation, Reform, Recovery, and Rebuilding. We realize that if we are to move our country forward we have to reconcile as a people. This is something that the current government has been unable to do. President Sirleaf has been unable to reconcile our people,” Brumskine said.

Brumskin said until the government can reconcile the people and reform the institutions of government that will sustain democracy, the country could again be on the path of self-destruction.

He admits it is not going to be easy to unseat president Sirleaf, and he said opposition parties were in the process of repositioning themselves.

“I think not only Liberty Party, but I believe at this point it is obvious that all opposition parties are repositioning themselves. We are trying to form opposition blocs; we are hoping that at the end of the day we can all come together and have a single candidate to oppose the president. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe President is popular with the people; I don’t believe she can win re-election. But because she is an incumbent president in Africa, her influence over the process and the tone of money that she will have, most of it from corrupt sources, she will not be under-estimated,” he said.

Brumskine agreed it has been difficult in the past for Liberian opposition parties to form alliances.

He said his Liberty Party is willing to enter into an alliance with other parties once the rules of the game have been decided.

Brumskine said he’s open to having an American-style open primary for selecting a standard bearer for the coalition.

He said Liberia’s brutal 14-year civil war was the result of a society that was based on exclusion and one in which justice was not meted out fairly.

Brumskine said little has changed under the Sirleaf government where senior government officials or those with relationship with the president and accused of corruption are often let go while the little people are often prosecuted.

He, however, credited President Sirleaf for connecting Liberia to the rest of the international community.

“For the first time probably in the history of our country we haven’t had so much goodwill directed to our country, and you must give Ellen the credit for being the first female (elected) president,” he said.

But Brumskine said there is still a need for Liberians to change the current leadership because President Sirleaf has failed to manage corruption and has gone absence in bringing economic recovery to the country.