In Liberia, the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) party has won a highly contested senatorial by-election runoff over President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s ruling Unity Party.
The by-election for Montserrado County, Liberia’s most populous political sub-division was necessitated by the death of Senator Hannah Brent of the CDC.
CDC candidate Geraldine Doe-Sheriff said the results are an indictment on the policies of President Sirleaf.
“First of all, I believe that Liberia has won as a nation, as a people, and the people resounded their wishes that they wanted a change; they wanted a new dispensation,” she said.
Doe-Sheriff said her victory was also made possible by an unusual collaboration among opposition political parties.
She said she is hopeful that such collaboration would lead to a united opposition in the 2011 general elections.
“For some of us that believe that in unity there is strength, we’re going to ensure that we can keep this collaboration together until 2011 because it’s very important that we, as a nation, try to minimize the proliferation of political parties,” Doe-Sheriff said.
Some observers believe the ruling Unity Party’s defeat was made possible in part because of the government’s failure to prosecute several officials who had been accused of corruption.
Doe-Sheriff said that and the high rate of unemployment might have left many, particularly the youth, disgruntled.
“The ruling party has not been able to impact the lives of the youth and the ordinary Liberian citizen. People are not happy; they are revolting and the best way to do that is through the ballot and not through the bullet,” Doe-Sheriff said.
Deputy Information Minister Cletus Sieh said President Sirleaf is fighting corruption using the rule of law, not iron hand.
“What others think is that the perception of corruption would mean that the president would use iron hand without the rule of law…we are now building a new democracy, a form of democracy that is hinge on the rule of law where everyone is given his day in court so that they can exonerate themselves whenever they are accused,” he said.
Sieh dismissed suggestion by some that the by-election result was an indication of the 2011 general elections.
He said Montserrado County, though the most populated political sub-division does not represent the whole of Liberia.
“To look at it and think that because they have won the by-election that they will win the 2011 election is a myth because when we talk about the presidency, it’s a totally different matter. And it takes serious minded people to make such challenge,” he said.
Doe-Sheriff, who until her election was national chairman of the opposition CDC, said she will be a consensus builder in the Liberian Senate in making laws that impact the lives of all Liberians.