Liberty Party’s Presidential Candidate Charles and Mrs. Brumskine at their campaign launch
WASHINGTON, DC —Liberia’s 10 October 2017 presidential race on Saturday drawn international attention with the elegant launch of one of the country’s main and vivacious political campaigns in the West Africa state’s capital, Monrovia.
Charles Walker Brumskine, the presidential candidate of the Liberty Party, promised “change” for the struggling African nation as well as advanced a proposal to reduce the salaries of government’s workers, including the office of the president and vice president, if elected president of Liberia. The tested and experienced former lawmaker and father of three children, all of whom are successful Ivy-league educated lawyers, said, he is the most suitable to replace President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf because his policy priorities include stamping out corruption, ensuring the rule of law and improving the Liberian economy by expanding private sector’s investments, creating jobs and investing in education, infrastructure, and social-economic development. The former alumna of the Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, said, he will strengthen the country’s judiciary and enable access to equal justice.
“I will cut salaries by 30 percent,” the accomplished Liberian corporate lawyer said, referring to the excessive wages, benefits and wasteful travel expenses of appointed and elected officials in the Liberian government.
Currently, officials of government under the current Liberian administration headed by Nobel Laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf are among the highest paid in Africa and, perhaps, the most corrupt of any African nation, leaving the population aground in excruciating poverty.
Access to quality and affordable health care is nonexistence, unemployment is colossally high with international institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and others putting the rate as high as 85 percent.
Private enterprise development and business establishment are arduous due to engrained widespread institutional corruption, and since access to energy (power or electricity) and good roads in a major portion of the country is lacking. Roads connecting about 85 percent of the country are impassable, at best, very bad. Recently, the United Nations Children Educational Fund (UNICEF) rated the country as the number one in the lack of access to primary education.
The International Food Policy Research Institute’s “World Food Crisis” project says Liberia remains a highly food insecure country, with a “serious” state of hunger rating, according to its 2012 – 2017 Global Hunger Index.
The country is classified by the World Food Programme (WFP) of the United Nations as a least developed, low-income, food-deficit country. It ranks 177 out of 188 countries in the 2015 Human Development Index.
According to the WFP, the most food insecure counties in Liberia are in the south-eastern part of the country (Grand Kru: 33 percent; River Gee: 32 percent) and the North (Grand Cape Mount (30 percent) and Bomi (30 percent) where physical access to market is a constraint, and where there are disruption of markets and reduced economic activity. An estimated 64 percent of Liberia’s 4.5 million people live below the poverty line with a typical family surviving on less than $ 1 United States dollar a day.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, highly praised in the West, has been president of Liberia since January 2006. She leaves office in January 2018 after a successor is elected in the 10 October 2017 presidential poll. A Nobel laureate, her critics in Liberia and a vast number of young Liberians say she does not deserve the prestigious award, but blamed a waste of Liberian resources on paid international western media and public relations agents who divulge a false persona of a leader of “one of the most corrupt administrations in Africa” as being responsible, according James Tamba, a Liberian IT professional based in Richmond, Virginia, who along with other Liberians in the United States, are planning a gigantic protests against the Liberian leader in New York when she attends the UN General Assembly by the end of September.
There are about 22 candidates seeking to succeed President Sirleaf, but only six individuals––current Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai of the ruling Unity Party; senator and former soccer legend George Manneh Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change; ex-Coca Cola global executive Alexander B. Cummings, Jr. of the Alternative National Congress; economist and businessman Benoni Urey of the All Liberian Party; former governor of the Central Bank of Liberia Dr. Joseph Mills Jones of the Movement for Economic Empowerment; and Counselor Charles Walker Brumskine, a respected corporate lawyer and former president of the Liberian senate who launched a spectacular campaign on Saturday that caught the attention of policy makers and others in Washington DC, including surrogates and outside advisors of the Trump’s administration.
Traditionally, the United States Government, the president and members of Congress, do not endorse nor meet with foreign presidential candidates and political parties in an election season, but a significant number of key policymakers and outside surrogates of the Trump’s administration have expressed keen interest in Liberia’s presidential transition because of yesterday’s event in Monrovia.
One highly respected Washington, DC-based Republican strategist who spoke to Globe Afrique (on condition of anonymity) described the Liberty Party’s leader as “authentic, honest, practical, sincere, knowledgeable, smart, intelligent and substantive.”
A New York’s Democratic congressional aide said, “We are beginning to research the ‘serious candidates’ in the race in Liberia and so far, we think three persons seem viable and knowledgeable in the eyes of our bosses, but it is up to Liberians to decide who they think can better serve their country and bring about the needed change. They just have to be wise in doing so”
Pressed further, the congressional aide said, “We think Vice President Boakai, Mr. Cummings and Attorney Brumskine need to be given serious consideration by Liberians if they are serious about change and a real experienced leadership. However, with the display of Brumskine on Saturday, I would doubt if Washington, DC is not over the moon about him already. He certainly has substance, looks engaging and presidential. But let see what the chatter will look like (about Liberia within the context of West Africa) in Washington, DC in the next couple of weeks,” he added.
The United States and American institutions often wade into thorny issues such as human rights, poverty, abortion, refugee/immigration, gay marriage and global warming but never explicitly endorse presidential candidates and rarely comment on elections in foreign countries.
However, the attention drawn into the current Liberian presidential race seems to be a notable exception, especially since presidential elections in a few African nations don’t usually have international implications.