The Selection Process Hits A Snag: Moniba Protests, Rebels Want Country and wimpy Interim President

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

August 20, 2003

Harry F. Moniba

Former Vice President Harry Moniba, one of the unsuccessful candidates during yesterday’s voting, has sent a protest letter to Chief Negotiator Abdulsalami Abubakar, (carbon copies sent to MODEL, LURD, GOL, Chairman of ECOWAS, African Union, European Union, International Contact Group on Liberia and the United States of America) for what he calls “gross irregularities that took place during the selection process for candidates…” Dr. Moniba claims that he would have become one of the choices were he allowed to vote. Protesting his alleged exclusion, Dr. Moniba wrote:

“I have the honor to present my compliments and to inform you about the gross irregularities that took place during the selection process for candidates whose names are to be selected to the parties for final selection for Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia. I am therefore submitting this letter as a formal protest against the result of the elections, conducted on August 19, 2003; at the M-Plaza Hotel in Accra, Ghana.

“During the first round of voting I was denied the right to vote even though I had applied and paid the fee of US$25.00, and was accepted as a candidate to contest the position of Chairman of the Transitional Government. I protested during the proceedings and the Elections Committee disregarded my protest. Little did I know however, that the Chairman of the Secretariat responsible for conducting the elections is an Executive member of the Liberian Action Party, whose Chairman is [Gyude] Bryant, was a candidate who ended up in tie with me at 17 votes each. Another contestant, Dr. Togbah Nah Tipoteh also had 17 votes. The tally finally stood at Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf 32, Rudolph Sherman 18, Dr. Togbah Nah Tipoteh 17, and Guyde Bryant 17. This clearly indicates that I had been granted my right to vote, there would have been no need for a second round, and I made this known.

“In view of the forgoing, I am requesting that the names presented to you should represent what should have been the result of the first ballot, which should take into account my vote, thereby giving me 18votes. This vote will break the tie with Mr. Bryant and Dr. Tipoteh, and tie me with Mr. Sherman thus qualifying me to be among the three nominees to be submitted to the parties designated in the Agreement for final selection.

“I am however constrained to add, your Excellency, that if a thorough investigation were conducted into the eligibility of the voters that participated in those elections you will find serious discrepancies. But suffice to say that I believe that the voting should end on the first ballot.”

Dr. Moniba was Vice President of Liberia under the ruthless Liberian dictator Samuel Doe. He was a beneficiary of the 1985 rigged Liberian elections. "What goes around, comes around", quipped one observer. Some consider him the most qualified among his colleagues vying for the chairmanship of the interim government, while others question his qualification, arguing that Liberia does not need Samuel K. Doe’s trainee who is experienced in corruption, dictatorship and brutality. By fluke Dr. Moniba could have become the interim president of Liberia in the 1990’s, but at the time Dr. Amos Sawyer was picked. Since he left office, Dr. Moniba has been on a hiatus and mute on the prevailing terror in Liberia - even as innocent people of his county were slaughtered by Taylor and LURD's forces. In short, his role in the Liberian plight is unclear. Some even call him a closet supporter of LURD, while others feel that his intention is to eat an elephantine share of the pie through corruption.

LURD and MODEL have not hidden their support for Dr. Moniba as Massa Washington observed in her July 7, 2003, article:

“…LURD and MODEL rebels have agreed in part to work with a civilian led interim government administration - however, they're proposing that Dr. Harry F. Moniba, former Vice President of Liberia under the late President Samuel K. Doe, heads the Interim government..

“Proponents of the "Moniba for Interim President" suggestion argue that there is a need to close the Doe presidency by making his vice president the interim president of Liberia. But others who oppose to the idea counter by saying that if that is the case, we must first close the Tolbert presidency by making his vice president, Bishop Bennie D. Warner, the interim president. Others conclude that no other person could have closed the Doe dictatorship better than Charles Taylor.

“It is believed that the rebels, especially of the MODEL faction, feel comfortable with Dr. Moniba. This is understandable since the overwhelming majority of it's fighting force, sympathizers, and benefactors, have ethnic or political ties to the NDPFL Party of President Doe to which Dr. Moniba belonged…”

Political analysts opine that the rebels insisted on being the electors because they, at all costs, wanted to pick somebody who has close ties with them to be the next leader of Liberia. "They want a wimpy president whom they will dictate to", one analyst said. Analysts, however, blame no body but Chief Negotiator Abdulsalami Abubakar for making the rebels the king makers for Liberia.

In another development, the rebels are saying that they are not satisfied with the names submitted because most of people on the list are Americo-Liberians.

According to a high level ECOWAS negotiator in Accra, Dr. Harry Monica was not accredited at the conference and therefore not a registered member to vote. He came in as an observer, his party was fully represented and he was also notified of the list of registered voters, the source said. The negotiator who preferred anonymity said Dr. Moniba’s claims will, therefore, not be considered by the negotiating team. He said that the negotiators were also surprised that after the voting process, the rebels would come back to say the names submitted are mostly Americo-Liberians. To the negotiators every Liberian at the conference is a Liberian and they will shutdown the conference tomorrow.