A Suitable Leadership for an Interim Government In Liberia

By Jamesetta Howard

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

August 2, 2003

We have followed the talks in Ghana of political parties, civil society and dissident forces to form an interim government to take over the government of Charles Taylor for a period and set in place those conditions necessary for a free and fair election. We are dismayed that people who claim that they are only interested in seeing Democracy in Liberia, and therefore want Charles Taylor to go and an interim government put in place to ensure that conditions are set, will sit and take weeks vying for the position of leadership of in an interim government as if this interim government is the only chance these people have of leading the nation. This interim government is simply intended to ensure that Liberians are free to choose a government of their choice who will bring about the much needed peace and unity thereby paving the way for genuine democracy. One wonders whether this political stalemate going on in Ghana is a sign that many of these "so-called" politicians are afraid that under the conditions where Liberians can make an informed choice they stand no chance of being elected to rule the State.

It is no hidden fact that since 1980, Liberia which stood up prominent among African Nations began its fall from prominence to degradation and that the Charles Taylor’s 1989 civil war and bad governance sped up the downward process leaving the once proud Liberians to hang their heads in shame whenever the topic of Liberia is raised. Having an opportunity now to see Taylor go and for well meaning Liberians to rise and rebuild, we begin to see other Charles Taylors emerging whose only aim is "YOU CHOP, I CHOP"; thus thwarting the chance of an immediate start in giving the Liberian people an opportunity to end their misery.

It is disheartening to hear of people contending to head the interim government who have no experience of running a store or known to be nothing but sycophants and spineless individuals; and to imagine that some Liberians are giving credence to the candidacy of these people only because they believe they will be incorporated into the "Chopping Club." What must some of those vying for heading of the interim government think of Liberia and its people? Because Liberia had a 10th grade student as leader (we all know how he got to be Head of State and later President), does that set the pace for a bare literate to go lobbying to lead our Country? What an insult! And to hear that he is galvanizing support makes one sick; a clear indication that many Liberians do not have the Country at heart but are basked in the "You chop, I chop" syndrome.

Since the 1980’s, Liberia has lost its credibility. Liberians are portrayed as being greedy, dishonest, and spineless people who are incapable of exhibiting those qualities for good governance. The first step to begin our reconstruction is to eradicate these notions of Liberians, and a good place to begin is with the interim Leadership of whom it is expected to re-establish and forge some trust among the international community. It is hoped that this interim leadership will induce the international community to take a step, even if tacit, to deal with Liberia again which could be extended to an elected government depending on the impression made by the interim government in establishing such trust.

To achieve this then, in our consideration of a choice for an interim government for Liberia, we must consider choosing someone who is known both nationally and internationally for having good leadership qualities which seem to be lacking in most Liberians. We need one who is capable of putting in motion not only the conditions leading to an elected government, but to set in place a blueprint for leading to a democratic society. To achieve this, the one chosen must not only have the kind of formal education necessary to make informed decisions necessary for such serious and taxing job, but must have vast experience and administrative ability compounded with vital exposure and international contacts to bring about the much needed help Liberia needs in moving forward.

Remember Liberians, there is no place in our choice for mediocrity. Liberia needs the best interim leader it can get now. Let us put our personal differences and selfish desires aside. What we need now is no handout or special favor. We need a capable leader who will put in place conditions for a free and fair election so that we can elect those who will ensure an open and democratic society where we will be free to thrive based on our personal ability and vision. Shall we put Liberia first, please?