Liberia’s 2023 general elections would be the fourth since the country’s return after the war in 2003. It will also mark the second successive uninterrupted democratic transfer of power or witness the second re-election of a sitting president since 2005.

Given Liberia’s delicate fiscal, security, and economic conditions, the 2023 election will be crucial for the country; however, beyond that, the election represents a pivotal time for each of the four front-runners from the four parties that may be the most well-known.

The four candidates are selected by their respective parties and it seems they are ready for the showdown.

George Weah and Jewel Howard-Taylor, of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) who are currently serving as President and Vice President of Liberia were elected in 2017 on the mantra “Change for Hope.”

Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Vice President Joseph Boakai, who contested the 2017 election but was defeated by Weah in 2017, is contesting again, this time with Jeremiah Koung, a three-time elected legislator from vote-rich Nimba County.

Businessman Alexander Cummings, like Boakai, participated in the 2017 election; he has chosen Charlyn Brumskine, the daughter of the late Charles Walker Brumskine, founder of the Liberty Party (LP).

Brumskine before his death, was defeated four times as presidential candidate in Liberia from 2002 to 2017.

The newest of the four is Cllr. Tiawon Saye Gongloe; is a man who has vast experience as a lawyer. His vice running mate, Dr Emmanuel K. Urey-Yarkpawolo is a native of Zota District, Bong County. The two came with the slogan “Creating a country for every citizen, which ensures that we keep Liberia First both in domestic & foreign values.”

Restoring the Economy

The economy is now beginning to recover after years of external shocks and bad policy decisions that left the vast majority of its population jobless and subsisting on US$1 per day. 

The Ebola outbreak, the decline in iron ore and rubber prices, and the withdrawal of United Nations (UN) peacekeeping forces are among the external shocks that are frequently mentioned.

Additionally, the Ebola and COVID-19 pandemics, which caused the economy to shrink by an average of 0.4 percent annually between 2014 and 2020, and are projected to have resulted in a rise in per capita income to 51 percent in 2021, wiped out nearly half of the gains made following the conflict, when the poverty rate decreased from 64 percent to 42 percent between 2007 and 2014.

Health crises have contributed to the recent surge in poverty the nation has seen.

It is estimated that the COVID-19 epidemic alone increased poverty by 2.3 percent. In the meantime, a strengthening economy in 2021 and beyond is projected to stimulate a recovery in private consumption per person, driving the poverty rate below 50%.

The Weah- Taylor administration proposed the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PADP) as the country’s development framework for six years (2018- 2023) upon taking office in a historic transition of power.

The agenda focuses on four themes: people’s power, the economy and jobs, peacekeeping, and governance and transparency. This strategy according to the Weah-Taylor government is to attain the aforementioned results as stages toward realizing Liberia’s National Vision 2030 goal of becoming a middle-income country.

The people’s erratic economic misery has made it difficult for the government to reform and realize the PADP. Experts have claimed that increases in people’s living standards and economic growth must be related. That is, in terms of redistribution, growth and development must be perfectly balanced.

Corruption, however, remains widespread in the country under Weah-Taylor, with Transparency International ranking Liberia 142 out of 180 countries in its 2022 corruption perceptions index.

In 2018, a corruption scandal involving the loss of $100 million in newly printed central bank notes in Liberia sparked widespread allegations of mismanagement of public funds within Weah’s administration.

Three Liberian government officials, including Weah’s chief of staff, were sanctioned by the US last year for what it claimed was their continued involvement in public corruption.

Also, the World Food Programme, estimated 65% of Liberians – one of the world’s poorest countries – are poor, with 1.3 million living in extreme poverty.

Weah-Taylor has a task at hand to answer to a 2019 government payroll harmonisation process that exacerbated matters by effectively lowering government workers’ pay since then.

Boakai-Koung has five pillars that include macroeconomic stability and infrastructural development that aims to ensure efficient management of the economy to restore its growth potential, engage in prudent fiscal management to ensure efficient utilization of meagre budgetary resources and restore confidence in the Country’s monetary and financial sector management system.

Cummings has said his top focus when elected President will be to revive the country’s economy, with greater private sector involvement, aimed at creating more jobs for the thousands of unemployed Liberians that will disproportionately benefit and take ownership of their economy, with strict enforcement of the Liberalization policy.

Gongloe, an economist and a lawyer believes that transitioning Liberia from a plantation economy model to a more industrial or manufacturing economy model is the greatest method for genuine progress and development in the country.

Education, Health and Youth Development

Gongloe and Yarpawolo have said their government will empower the youth by investing heavily in a comprehensive youth program that includes compulsory,  high-quality free primary and secondary education, as well as youth sports and athletics programs in schools and communities to promote entertainment, incite competition, improve physical fitness, and prevent crime.

The pair plan involves eliminating tuition for public schools (kindergarten through 12th grade), providing teachers living wages, constructing new schools and renovating old ones to create a conducive learning environment.

The Cummings- Bumskine said their first hundred days plan is the creation of a national youth service program. While Boakai-Koung Boakai declared dedication to furthering the cause of Liberian youth. They said their administration will devote public funds to the uplift of Liberia’s youth. hey promised that their administration will give young people in the nation the chance to pursue careers in agriculture, tourism, and construction.

There is a nightmare on the Weah-Taylor stance when it comes to youth empowerment as it is one year since the launch of the project titled National Fund Drive for the Rehabilitation of “At-Risk Youths” in Liberia.

The project has not yet begun since the Ministry of Youth and Sports voiced concerns about the lack of funding for the centre’s rehabilitation and startup to assure its effectiveness.

Boakai came second to Weah in 2017 in both the general and run-off elections, while Cummings did not make the run-off, also his political party did not win over five legislative seats in 2017.

Cummings and Boakai were both members of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), a coalition of parties that joined forces to make Weah-Taylor a one-term president, but their political union did not last until the 2023 elections when they split up.

Boakai-Koung believes that Boakai; the former Vice President’s experience gives the team an advantage over Cummings and Gongloe, but he faces the incumbent Weah-Taylor who is contesting for the second term.

While Cummings-Brumskine is running on the Matra “Fixer”, it means that both Weah and Boakai have ruined Liberia and they (Cummings-Brumskine) are the only choice.

Gongloe-Yarpkpawolo is calling for transparency and accountability in the upcoming elections.

However, Liberians know who they want, which is either continuity or a choice between Cummings, Boakai, and Tiawon or the others.

It is also safe to say that of the four candidates, only two will advance to the run-off election on October 10, 2023, and a winner will emerge.


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