Can elections heal Liberia from its history of violent conflict?
Liberians went to the polls on Tuesday to vote in the first national elections since the end of the 14-year civil war in 2003.
Businessman Gyude Bryant had been running an interim government since former President Charles Taylor was forced to step down and leave the country two years ago.
During the war more than 300,000 people were killed and many more fled their homes. The challenges facing the new government are immense.
Do you think that it is a vote for peace? What should the priorities be for the new government? If your country went through a war situation and has now recovered, what advice would you offer to Liberians?
This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.
I personally predicted the results of the Liberian election before it was held. George Weah has been the winner in my view, and he is winning now. But his victory is only certain because Liberians are 85% illiterate and 15% literate. All the illiterate people voted for Mr Weah, so according to democracy, he wins. We need more schooling in Liberia for its entire people.
Silas Sayemanakpalah, USA
Looking at the way people are committed to the voting one would say God is with the Liberians. They have suffered enough. Let us not have other people going into the bush to prepare for a rebellion. The surrounding countries should be against training rebels. As I have stated, God is with the Liberians and anyone trying to disrupt peace will be sorted out. God heal Liberia.
Obby Nsonge, Zambia
I'm very surprised that Sekou Damateh Kone, the leader of rebels, is not vying for the election. It makes me uncomfortable to think that the election will heal Liberia. It seems that the election is not yet a shared value in Liberia. But, good luck to Liberia.
Isaac Tape, Ivory Coast
It is my prayer that the election can be fair. I am an African and I love Liberians and I am hurt within me when I see my brothers and sisters dying and suffering for nothing.
Ouedraogo Daniel, Burkinabe in USA
I frankly think that these elections can only help to heal Liberia if the right candidates are elected. It seems we are far from that! There are warlords and un-indicted killers masquerading as politicians. The horrendous crimes committed against the Liberian people are so deep, that the country can never be healed, until they are addressed. Here we are talking about a highly traumatized population that may not have the wisdom to make the right choice.
Flomo Jones, United States
We definitely need someone with experience and knowledge, someone who is open-minded to lead our country for the next six years.
James Pratt, Liberian in USA
I believe, like most Liberians, there is a genuine love for our country. I think Liberians have taken a step closer to healing our country by heading to the voting polls and letting their votes serve as the voice for love, peace, and freedom. No matter who wins, we should all embrace our new leader and accept defeat. Once we can accept defeat, we will move another step closer to a newer and better Liberia.
Stephanie Duncan, USA
After 14 years of war, the prospect of a fresh start beginning with the choosing of a capable new leader is definitely a huge step forward in making Liberia productive and not destructive. Corruption, education, jobs and equality should be the main issues. In union, strong success is sure and this time we cannot and must not fail.
Stephen Togba, Liberian living in Sweden
I think when this election gives us the right leader, devoid of blemish, that way Liberia would be healed at least of the emotional pains on hearts and minds.
Joseph Flomo Goelo, Ghana
The massive turnout pinpointed the voters quest for peace. Imagine 16 years in a war/no peace situation. The people are beleaguered. The new government ahs got to be patriotic and well groomed to face the challenges. Basic commodities, including the staple food, and the prices of petroleum products have got to be rationalized. Education and the primary health care system need serious consideration. The road network including farm-to-market roads needs a complete rehabilitation. Pipe-borne water and electricity need resuscitation. The security apparatus needs restructuring. Corruption needs minimizing.
Wettie Thompson, Liberia
Yes I think this is a vote for peace. The first priority is for reconciliation - Mandingo versus Gio, Mano, Kpelleh, Lormah and the native versus Congo (Americo-Liberians). All should know that they own Liberia equally, with respect for each other's dignity. The second priority for the new government is to fight corruption. After the above are established, everything else will follow.
Varfee Dorley, Liberia
I am not sure a man who can run a sports store or his night club can run a country. With about 85% illiteracy, this election may not bring healing.
I believe that elections can heal Liberia. We all need to co-operate. Let us forget about tribalism and face the fact that we are Liberian.
Oscar Blehsue, USA
I am a Liberian in the Kingdom of Norway. The elections will heal Liberia, if the page is changed by electing one of the new generation of the Liberian political team. The old ones have failed us for a decade and the half.
Michael Pah Forsther, Norway
The Liberians are thirsty for democracy. We just pray that this time the power hungry and the hardened war zealots will come to their senses and realise the importance of rebuilding their nation. Both the losers and the victors should focus on advancing Liberia on the route of democracy.
Amato Makandwa, Zimbabwe
I pray for Liberia and I am sure the election will heal the country once they have chosen the right person. But let that person keep God's fear in mind, because Liberians have suffered too much.
Salami Fatai, Nigeria
This is a milestone for every Liberian to appreciate. The top priorities for the new government should be restoring electricity, water, roads, schools, medical facilities and cleaning the cities. All of these will create jobs for our people in this sweet land of liberty.
J Jude Cooper, USA
Let the results be accepted by the politicians, so that there will be no devastation any more. Thanks.
Joseph Weah, Liberia
Certainly the elections are a good start, even though Liberians living in the diaspora were denied their basic rights to vote by the NEC. The priorities of this new government, in my humble opinion, are two-fold. First it must clamp down harshly on corruption. And secondly, it should strive toward meeting the basic needs of the vast majority of Liberians who have suffered for so long as the result of bad leadership.
James W Harris, Liberian in USA
Elections will definitely heal the wounds in Liberia if the right person is elected.
Dale Nenger, Burkina Faso
Elections alone will not heal the wounds of Liberia, but it is one step forward towards the healing process. Above all, Liberians should be prepare to accept the result of the election and also forgive those that have caused so much suffering.
They should borrow a leaf from neighbouring Sierra Leone. Revolutionary United Front (RUF) lost the elections, but accepted the result to allow us to live in peace, as there is nothing more precious than peace.
Mustapha S Kemokai, Sudan
Who died in the war? Liberians. Who were displaced? Liberians. Who suffered the war? Liberians. Who will benefit from the elections and peace? Liberians. They have tasted the two sides, war and peace. Now is the time for them to choose. A lot of people from Ecowas and UN have lost their lives trying to bring peace to Liberia. The choice is theirs. Long live Liberia.
John Ene, Lagos, Nigeria
After spending three months serving the people of Liberia and living in Bush Rod Island you can feel that even the land is ready for peace and all the people are ready for a real change.
Tammy Slade, USA
I am a Sierra Leonean living in Norway. I know what it means to have peace in a country that experienced war. I think the new president should hand over Charles Taylor to the Sierra Leone Special Court. Otherwise he may use the new leadership to destabilize the western region.
Steven Tamba Bonga, Bergen, Norway
I thank God for this election and I pray that whosoever wins this election should build a better Liberia for all Liberians and not one group of people. We have suffered too long. This is the only hope that we have now.
David Fatormah, Liberia
Elections can heal Liberia only when the results are accepted by all and all decide to put differences aside and work in the same direction - peace and nation building.
Chea Wesseh, Liberia
Words cannot express my joy at the progress Liberia has made since the end of the civil war. One of my best friends at college is from Liberia, and was forced to flee to Sierra Leone during the war, where he escaped death at the hands of Sierra Leonean rebels. He saw the carnage first-hand, and his stories allowed me to dig deeper into Liberia's as well as West Africa's story.
I always assured him that this war will end, and we vowed to visit Liberia once it has stabilized so I can see where he came from.
Now, hopefully we will able to do so.
Josh Gardner, PA, US
It is just thrilling to know how much Liberians are willing to leave the past behind to build a better nation. Charles Taylor is now history. There is no doubt that this election will mark a kick-off for a better Liberia.
Solomon E Gindeh, Guinea
Now that Liberians have expressed their civil rights at the polls, it is time those horn blowers show their appreciations and gratitude to the suffering citizens of Liberia and turn that little country into what our ancestors hoped for; a free land of liberty. We will keep watching and listening and if any mischievous governance shall be grafted into our next president, we will surely stand up again until our voices are heard.
Moleek, Liberian in the US
I pray that this election is the beginning of peace for all Liberians. I thank the UN peace keepers and, the world for being there for my country. Who ever wins, I am glad that my people had a choice to choose. God Bless Liberia.
Vivian Beyan, United States
Up until 1979 there had been no history of violence in Liberia. A reluctance to eat home grown rice rather that American 'Uncle Bens', started the whole conflict. I lived in Monrovia for seven years and was there when the rice riots started.
The new government must not depend on outside influences, but persuade the population to take responsibility for themselves. The Liberian motto "The Love of Liberty brought us here" should be changed to: "The Love of Liberty keeps us here".
Chrissie Walsh, UK
This is our day in the sun. A chance to put right all that we have done wrong over the last 14 years. Please give the children of Liberia their future, by voting right today!
DZ Logan, Liberia
Becoming President is not all to it, what Liberia needs right now is a person that have real love for the country. This is the oldest African country and the very least in Africa. If Liberia doesn't get a good leader who will set an example, I believe we will continue to repeat the past.
Harold Taylor, USA
The election will truly help to pave the way for peace in Liberia, but the most important issue here is that Liberian politicians will have to learn how to accept defeat and stop being childish. Everyone in the race will not go to the Mansion as President.
Silas Sayemanakpalah, USA
Liberians must choose a better leader; a leader that will rebuild the country and give the youths a better education. Let the children reach their dreams!
Angierach Hansen, USA
Elections will be the starting point on the road to recovery. Hopefully the elections will be transparent and losers won't go back to fighting. It is my prayer that the winners will seek justice for past crimes, as that is the only way we can have genuine reconciliation.
Karwolo, Liberian in the US
These elections should be free and fair in order to heal the ancient old land. A fair electoral process is one where the playing field is reasonably level and accessible to all electors, parties and candidates. While, a free electoral process is one where fundamental human rights and freedoms are respected. If they can address the two, Liberia will be out for a successful future!
Josephat M Mua, Kenya/USA
Elections are a first step to the healing process in Liberia. The challenges are enormous, but with the right leadership, I believe Liberia can rise again. My major concern is the high illiteracy rate in the country. Making the right decision when you have limited capabilities is Liberia's problem.
Kazo, Liberian/ USA
Liberians must choose a leader that will have the country at heart, not a leader that will mislead the people.
Johnathan Tarr, U.S.A.
I firmly believe that the first step for us would be self-healing. We need to recognize that we are all Liberians and have to work together to rebuild our country.
Taa Wongbe, Liberian in the US
I think the priorities for the new government should be good governance, abolishing corruption, education for every citizen, the economy, land reform, agriculture and infrastructural development. Liberians are not poor people. We can live from the given status of third world to the good standard of first world.
Trokon Smith, US
Liberia's new leaders will need counselling from a few African leaders who have gone, tried and managed to solve their internal problems, for example Angola, Rwanda and Mozambique. The West should facilitate the transition through financial and moral support.
Musemakweri John, Rwanda/US
Elections can do for Liberia no more, but no less, than a wedding does for a marriage: An exciting event that quickly gives way to the real business of making things work! Liberia will remain a tough work-in-progress for the foreseeable future.
All ideas are good but without independence and security, a nation is nothing. Liberia relies on other countries for almost everything. It is a shame that our staple food, rice, has to come from elsewhere when we have lots of land to harvest our own. We need to use our own natural resources instead of selling them for little or nothing.
It is hard to determine whether elections can heal Liberia considering the number of peace deals and ceasefire agreements that have been signed since 1989. But Liberians have reached a point where they have realized that it is not worth fighting for an entire decade just to achieve nothing. Besides, Charles Taylor, who was an obstacle to peace, has been removed, and the present leaders have demonstrated some genuine devotion to achieving peace.
Joseph Kaifala, Sierra Leonean in US
Liberia's new leadership must implement a series of reconstruction programs that will bring practical development to all sectors in the country. Jobs, jobs, jobs, are the only thing to heal this country.
Alkina Phillips, US
Elections are not the sole answer to Liberia's problems, but they bring a promise of a national will and consensus for peace, prosperity and development. In coexisting, however, Liberians should be aware that there are those who will do everything to create and perpetuate disharmony. In their cunning and hatred, they spread misinformation, sell and give away guns and other arms. There are those who come offering quick answers and are ready to call themselves "friends", when they are only interested in Liberia's resources: Timber, minerals etc.
Cyril E Broderick Sr., US
A free and fair election in Liberia is one of several things that should be put in place. Of prime importance is the role of the international community in providing enough aid that will help improve the appalling social conditions in the country. The presence of a UN peacekeeping force for at least three years will help consolidate the peace and also serve as an assurance to potential investors.
Sigismond Wilson, Sierra Leonean in US
I went to school in Liberia. It is my second home. Indeed, l would love to participate in the re-development process. Every effort should be made to ensure that Liberia doesn't go the Zimbabwe or Ethiopia way after elections.
Elections are a necessary starting point, but love of country and forgiveness will be the key to our rehabilitation. The priority for any new government should be security and the restoration of basic services such as healthcare, education, water and other fundamental necessities such as electricity.
Lionel Kennedy, Liberian in US
To heal, Liberians MUST seek genuine reconciliation. But that will only come about if there is justice and accountability. There are people, some of whom were leaders and fighters of various factions, who allegedly killed innocent civilians with impunity. We cannot pretend that these heinous crimes were not committed during the course of war. A functional truth and reconciliation commission is needed to bring closure to this ugly chapter in our history.
I am a Liberian living in the United States. I left my country when I was 12 years old during the senseless war. I am praying for Liberia to rise again so that we all can live in peace and harmony. One way to do this is for the new government to be inclusive. This means any competent person should be given a chance to work regardless of their sex, tribe, or religion.
Augustus Tarlue, USA
I wonder what it would take for us to realise that "elections" and "democracy" are not the answers to all our problems. The sad and bitter reality is that some of our rulers have proved incapable and even unwilling to accept the basic responsibilities that go with leadership. The result, our people have become victims of these elections, while "democracy" has made us poor. If elections have not brought stability to Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, and so many other African countries, what chance has Liberia got?
Yes, the elections could help heal Liberia. With the help of the Western nations, all the key players who have contributed to instability in west Africa must face justice. The US and her ally should leave no stone unturned. These cruel people must be brought to justice.
Stanley Flomo, USA
Elections, though necessary, are not the cure. Good and accountable governments, an environment devoid of harassment, among others, are the therapy for a wholesome and functioning society.
James Nimene, USA
Next week's elections will nurse Liberia from its violent past, but it won't eradicate the scars from the brutal 15 years of war. If we Liberians do not give proper care and attention to our nation's scars, we might end up in yet another vicious circle of war and carnage.
Wulah Cooper, Monrovia, Liberia
Healing takes time but the elections will be the first dose of treatment. Having said that, I also think that these elections were hurried. The interim administration deserved five years to put in place state structures, like the army, police, civil service etc. Issues such as demobilisation and resettlement needed to be ironed out first. But as this has now been overtaken by events, all Liberians should offer support to whoever is elected.
Patrick Abal, Uganda/USA
The elections, combined with ongoing UN assistance and strong international interest, provide an excellent chance for positive change in Liberia if a candidate with the appropriate credentials is elected.
The Liberian political scene is dominated by some rebel leaders who don't have the interest of the country at heart. My fear is that this election will only give them an opportunity to cause more trouble and fear to the ordinary man.
Vote, vote, vote, Liberia. I sincerely hope that these dear brothers and sisters will choose a leader with their best interests at heart. One who will not loot whatever is left of their economy. They should learn from fellow African states that are suffering because of electing bad leaders. I advise them not to be cheated by sugar coated speeches that will not heal their wounds of 15 years of war, and to remember that all that glitters is not gold.
Shuttie F.N.Libuta, Zambia
This historic election in itself can not heal Liberia, but will most definitely lay the ground work for progress. This is a crucial moment in our lives and the history of our country. It's not about any particular person or group of persons. It is about our country. Liberia must regain her lost glory. Long live the Lone Star!
Roland S. Weah, Liberian in USA
I believe that the first priority for the new government is to encourage unity amongst the people. Yes, we in Liberia need electricity and water, but we must first learn to love each other and our country. We must not turn against each other again.
Liberia needs a leader like Rwanda's president Paul Kagame. He brought Rwanda out of the darkness of the 1994 Genocide. He has put Rwanda back on the world map in less than 10 years. It is now a better country than it was 30 years ago.
D'amour Sharangabo, Canada