Recently, Liberia celebrated its first elections since the end of the 1989-2003 civil war that brutalized the country and ravaged an already stagnant economy.  As the International Crisis Group suggests in their September 7th report (link),

“Liberia has been crumbling for at least 25 years. Elections are but a small, early step in a lengthy reconstruction process that will be sabotaged if Liberian elites refuse some form of intrusive economic governance mechanism, or if international partners pull out before a sustainable security environment is achieved. If the international community does have to return in several years, it will be to mop up yet another war that will cost far more than remaining seriously engaged over the next decade or more.”

The result?  It will be incumbent on the great powers to persist in their efforts to achieve a stable, democratic Liberia.  This includes the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and especially the Economic Community of West African States and the African Union.  As the report mentions, Liberia’s regional importance for West Africa is crucial, especially given the continuing instability in the Ivory Coast and Guinea, and the fact that many common ethnicities exist within these regions.  Movements to build solidarity with the peoples of Liberia would do well to exploit those commonalities in the pursuit of a lasting peace.

If the newly-elected Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first woman president, succeeds in pacifying the rebels upset by defeat, it would be a great victory for their transition to democracy.  (link: CNN article)

Also in West Africa, Burkina Faso went to the polls on Sunday to elect their head of state (link: BBC).  Blaise Compaore is widely expected to retake the helm although disputes about how the country’s constitutional term limits apply to his tenure have been brought before the country’s court system.  Even though “get out the vote” messages have been widespread, as the article maintains,

“President Compaore has spent hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of dollars more on his campaign than his rivals”

An estimated 60% are likely to support his bid; and the results will take weeks to be determined.