MONROVIA (Reuters) - After a dozen years of recovery under Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for helping bring peace after civil war turned her country into a wasteland, Liberians are hopeful about their first democratic power transfer for 73 years.
Twenty candidates are standing to replace Johnson Sirleaf in a first round on Tuesday. With nobody likely to win a majority outright, the top two are expected to face each other in a run-off in around a month. While the election campaign has been rambunctious, it has been mainly peaceful so far, and most expectations are that it will come off without bloodshed...
“High level corruption has been a slap in the face for Liberians, most of whom live in abject poverty,” said Liberian political analyst Robtel Neajai Pailey who also criticized what she described as “hero worship” of Johnson Sirleaf.
Robtel Neajai Pailey, a Liberian academic based at the University of Oxford, acknowledges that the Lebanese community has contributed to Liberia's economy, but she sympathizes with Harding.
"The bottom line is we don't have the luxury of neglecting Liberian small- to medium-sized enterprises. I think if we were a middle-income country that hadn't had a war for 14 years we could say, 'Yes, let's open up and let the market take its course,' " she says. "But even countries that preach laissez-faire economics protect certain industries and give subsidies to their farmers."