Monday, October 10, 2005

Our Election Journalists On the Scene File these Reports

Election Report by Noah Reed (Age 10)
On Tuesday, October 11, 2005, Liberia will vote for a new president. The results might not come until, at the latest, October 26. There are twenty-two candidates and five seem to be the leaders. The leaders and their parties are:
George Weah: Congress for Democratic Change
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf: Unity Party
Charles Brumskine: Liberty Party
Varney Sherman: Coalition for the Transformation of Liberia
Winston Tubman: National Democratic Party
In Liberia there are 1.5 million registered voters and of that, there are 600,000 men and 900,000 women. The candidates will need at least one vote over 50% of the votes and if no one gets that they will do another vote for the top two candidates. When elected, the president will serve for a total of six years.

There are many election observers who watch to make sure the voting and election is done right, including former US president, Jimmy Carter. For additional security they have tamper proof locks on the boxes with the ballots in them, because in the past people have messed with the votes so that their candidate will win the election. Much of Monrovia and schools will be shut down because it is going to be busy and maybe dangerous.

Here is some information about four candidates:
George Weah: A professional soccer player.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: A past politician and UN official.
Varney Sherman: A lawyer.
Winston Tubman: Son of former President Tubman
It is difficult for Liberians to get information other than on the radio. There are also accusations that candidates are bribing people with rice and money to get their votes. Plus there are signs to girls saying, “My Vote is Secret” because some men tell women to vote for who the man wants to vote for. For voters that can not read or write, they will dip their thumb in ink and put it on the picture of the candidate who they want to be president.

I interviewed two people about the election. One was Sister Amanda, the other Brother Samuel. Sister Amanda thinks that a good president is what Liberia needs. Sister
Amanda wants Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to be president because she has good International contacts. With International contacts, Sister Amanda says Ellen can get people jobs which might bring peace because people won’t steal. Sister Amanda believes the most important task for the new president is fixing roads, getting people jobs, improving schools, and getting running water. This is why Sister Amanda wants Ellen for president.

Brother Samuel’s thoughts about the election are that it’s a good exercise for Liberia to choose a good leader. He hopes that God will speak to the people’s hearts and help them choose a good leader that will help Liberia. He believes the president needs to restore water, rights for people, rebuild roads and cover potholes, and improve health. So the president basically needs to rebuild Liberia. Brother Samuel doesn’t know who to vote for but hopes God will help him choose the right person. He believes the president has to have knowledge and common sense because without those the country could fall apart again. He also thinks the president also has to have past experience with unifying things and needs to know what to do to help the country. Brother Samuel said that all the candidates are promising to unify Liberia. He hopes they keep their promise. Brother Samuel said, “This job won’t be done overnight. It’s a hard task to do but hopefully it will be done.”

My thoughts on the election are that an important task for the new president is unifying and rebuilding. I hope the Liberians pick the right president because the president will stay for six years which is a long time. I also hope the candidates will keep their promise on unifying and rebuilding Liberia. From Monrovia, Liberia, this is Noah Reed reporting.

The Presidential Elections: The Candidates, the Voters, the Process
by Hannah Reed (Age 12)

This year hosts the first presidential election in Liberia in eight years. The elections will take place on October 11, 2005 and the results will be out on October 26. In this election, there are 22 candidates, five of which seem to be in the lead. The candidates that seem to be in the lead appear to be Ellen Sirleaf of the Unity Party, George Weah of the Congress for Democratic Change(CDC), Charles Brumskine of the Liberty Party, Varney Sherman of the Coalition for Transformation of Liberia(COTOL), and Winston Tubman of the Nation Democratic Party of Liberia(NDPL). To win this election, one of the candidates must have 51% of the vote. Some Liberians say that Ellen has a good chance of winning because 900,000 of the 1.5 million registered voters are women [although some women are being forced by men to vote for who the men want. The My Vote is Secret Campaign is telling women to stand up for themselves and vote for who they want.]. The remaining 600,000 are men. 51% of the votes are 765,000 votes. This method of doing things could mean a run-off. Then the top two candidates will compete, and there will be another election two weeks later. If the voters can’t read or write, their ballot will have pictures of the candidates and they will put their thumb on an ink pad, and then press it on the picture of the candidate they want to win. To ensure that the votes won’t be messed with when being transported from separate counties, there are many security measures being used, such as the boxes the ballots are being transported in have tamper-proof locks. During the week of the voting, a lot of Monrovia will be closed. It was suggested that the schools be closed from October 3-15. Although this idea was dismissed by some schools, most government schools are closed during that time.
George Weah is popular among young adults because he is a soccer celebrity. Ellen has been in jail twice for speaking against the government. Varney and Brumskine are both lawyers. It is extremely hard to get information much deeper than this on the candidates, so the voters’ knowledge doesn’t seem to be deep about any of the candidates.
I interviewed two people about the election. The first person was Reverend Zar. “I’m satisfies with this election,” says Zar. Rev. Zar is voting for Charles Brumskine. “I like him because he likes the children,” says Zar, “and I like him for caring about their education. He has concern for the children.” Rev. Zar believes that Brumskine will have to help the people forgive. “After that,” says Zar, “unifying will be easy.” Rev. Zar says that Brumskine has experience as a lawyer and that that is good. That concluded my interview with Rev. Zar.
The second interviewee was Pastor Samuel B. Reeves. He says that he is also satisfied with the election because it is the first free, real, and fair election in a long time. He is voting for Ellen Sirleaf. “I’m voting for Ellen,” says Reeves, “because she is skilled and the world knows and trusts her. She is a very good leader and in the past, she’s worked for the UN.” Pastor Reeves says that the most important job for the new president will be reconciliation. “Everything will follow that,” Reeves says. Ellen works for the Unity Party and although it’s never won an election, it has had strong candidates in the past. “Ellen will make a good leader because she has character, courage, and she’ll be committed to her job,” says Reeves, “and since she’s a ‘people person’ she’ll work with all people, not just a few.” Pastor Reeves doesn’t know much about Ellen’s vice-president, but he trusts Ellen and her pick. This concluded my interview with Pastor Samuel B. Reeves.
As an American 12-year-old observing the election, I think Ellen would make a good president for this country. I think that the new president’s biggest job is reconciliation, then rebuilding. But both of these jobs are very important and this is not an either/or job, this is a both/and thing. Both rebuilding and reconciling are important and since one has to come before the other, then the other should come directly behind. It doesn’t matter which one comes first as long as one does. These elections are one step closer to rebuilding this country. My hope is that this new president will help heal the country and that he or she will do it peacefully. Reporting from Liberia, West Africa, this is Hannah Reed.

The Liberian Presidential Ballot. Twenty-two candidates.

Close up of same.

The National Elections Commission, apparently prepared for sore losers.

Another view of the NEC building. Razor wire heaven!

CDC Hut, part of the George Weah party Headquarters.