White House Expects Taylor to Rig the Elections

By Abdoulaye W. Dukule

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

February 3, 2003

"How can she say that? It is unfortunate that people in such a position at the White House would make comments that can derail a democratic process. How can they predict what the government would do? Our government is going to organize the most free and fair elections the country has ever known," said Aaron Kollie the Chargé at the Liberian Embassy in Washington, DC. I had called him to "run by him" what I had just heard, that afternoon, last week from a close advisor to President Bush.

It was during a conference on Africa, organized by The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa at the Brookings Institute. The room was packed with diplomats, policy makers and journalists. During the Questions and Answers period, I was given a chance to speak. I directed my question to Dr. Jendayi Frazer, the Special Assistant to President Bush on African Affairs at the National Security Council. I asked her what was US policy on Liberia and how the US government perceives the up-coming elections in Liberia.

Dr. Frazer's response was direct. She said the only US policy towards the Taylor government is that of containment. "Our policy is to contain Mr. Taylor so that he does not cause further destabilization in the region. We work with the UN and the sanctions to make sure that his activities are kept in check. Other than that, we are also working with the civil society and those who believe in the democratic process." In response to the second part of my question, she said: "We expect Liberian elections to go the same way the Zimbabwe elections went. There is no doubt in our mind that Mr. Taylor would rig the elections. We don't see any other way." She made no other comment on the issue.

Later that evening, I asked Dr. Charles Clark, national Chairman of Unity Party who was visiting Washington, DC if he thought everything was set for the elections. He said that the country is far from being ready for elections in 9 months. "There are so many issues to deal with. The first and most important issue is about security. The security atmosphere in the country has not improved and this is why we have been calling for the deployment of a stabilization force. There is no way anyone can go out and campaign in these conditions. The second problem is that of demographic. There has been a major shift in Liberian population over the past twenty years. To have nationwide elections, we must know who is where and how many people live in the country. Therefore, census becomes an imperative before any credible election can be held. We don't see any movement in that direction by the government. Another problem concerns the elections commission. The commission needs to be restructured. We have raised all these issues on and on and if we are going to move forward, we must find solutions."

Cletus Wotorson, who ran for president on the Liberian Action Party (LAP), is of the same opinion. He sees no reason "for anyone to believe that there would be free and fair elections under the present conditions in Liberia." His major concern seems to center on "what the opposition wants and where do we go once we pass Mr. Taylor." He says that he still has to see the kind of unity "one would expect given the situation in the country. This is not just about defeating Taylor at elections, it is about moving the country forward, no matter what." Mr. Wotorson says his party has not been much in contact with him lately but said he remained resolute in his search for peace and unity. "To think that the presidency is the only issue now is to be blind to the tragic situation our country is going through," Mr. Wotorson concluded.

Left or right, nobody seems to believe that Taylor would organize free and fair elections in a 9 month-period that could lead to his demise. His many followers, who now see him as the only shield protecting them from a war crimes tribunal would make sure that elections are not held and if they were, that the only outcome would be a Taylor victory. The fight to maintain Taylor in power is not for Taylor, it is for everyone who committed untold crimes during his ascendance to power. The threats against Brumskine and other politicians are real, because people whose survival depends on the continuous reign of the Master issue those threats.

Those who have followed Taylor's ascension to power since 1989 know that he would go to any length to stay in the mansion. It is up to the Liberian people to "take their country back." Can they do it? In just 10 months, we will have an answer.

Finally, about this Dr. Fahnbulleh

Our attention was drawn to a piece published on The Orbit website by Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, former Assistant Professor at the University of Liberia, former head of an "unborn warring faction' trained and financed by Kaddafi and whose junior members were left to die in a Sierra Leonean prison, former Ambassador- at- Large for IGNU and since 1995, Special Envoy of the Liberian Government. It is pitiful that a man with such titles spends his time writing such petty stuff. But then again, one has to justify the paycheck; there is no such thing as a free lunch and that much I have learned from my American education. Kaddafi told Dr. Sawyer that amongst all the Liberians who came to him to take money to overthrow Samuel Doe, only Taylor kept his promise. The rest, including our good Dr., took the money and vanished.

He wrote that I am "from Conakry Polytechnique." The only places I know in Conakry are the airport and the presidential Palace. I had never been to Guinea prior to my first trip there as member of an IGNU delegation led by Dr. Levi Zangai in January 1992. I attended a small private Catholic College in Canada not Poly-whatever in Guinea... My PhD? The University of Illinois is not a back alley university. And my Ph.D feeds me and my family! For a revolution to succeed, it must be based on a theory and a praxis. So much I read. We have many friends in common who could have told you about me... To close this paragraph, we would say this much: 1980 was an assassination and 1989 was the beginning of mass murder and looting. There will always be lunatics to believe otherwise. We all read Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky and Mao in our junior years but then again, one must grow up.