Football hero George Manneh Weah’s emphatic victory in Liberia’s presidential run-off in late December is noteworthy for a far less sensational, but no less significant, reason. Here, the tiny West African state witnessed a smooth political transition, echoing a resilient democratic culture that is evolving in a continent where one-party dictatorship still remains entrenched.
The election was violence-free by most accounts, belying fears of a descent into instability following the termination late last year of a UN peacekeeping mission. What helped was the relatively stable rule in the country, of more than a decade, under the outgoing President, the tenacious Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and also Africa’s first elected woman head of state.
The 2011 Nobel Laureate for Peace (which she shared with two other recipients) earned global acclaim for her stewardship of a nation ravaged by the 14-year civil war in which hundreds of thousands of lives were lost and others displaced. Among several candidates in the running for the top job was the former guerrilla leader and mastermind of the 1990 coup that ousted the President, besides the ex-wife of Charles Taylor, the warlord sentenced to 50 years by a Hague tribunal. Accusations of a fraudulent poll and judicial intervention did force the deferment of the run-off but could not prevent the eventual concession of defeat by the outgoing Vice-President.
Source: The Hindu Online