BFF Outlines Implications of Electoral Violence on Liberia’s Peace & Security -Calls on All to Isolate Wrongdoing & for State to Punish culprits
The Better Future Foundation (BFF), has observed that the recent waves of electoral violence in Liberia are symptoms of fragility with respect to Liberia’s peace, security and democracy; and underscored the need for the Liberian authority and international partners to work towards addressing the situation.
In a statement issued in Monrovia, BFF made reference to the separate acts of electoral violence which lately occurred in Montserrado County Districts 13 and 15 during which several persons were seriously injured and properties destroyed.
According to BFF, such bloody violence in the two electoral districts serves as a litmus test for what could happen in the 2020 senatorial and 2023 presidential elections in Liberia if appropriate corrective measures are not taken.
The statement quoted BFF Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Augustine Arkoi as saying “There is also an urgent need for intense and sustained civic and voters education campaign across Liberia to ensure that citizens clearly understand how to exercise their democratic franchise and respect the right of others to freely choose and vote for candidates of their choice without any fear of being target of violent attacks and/or political reprisal.”
BFF also observes with regret the utterances of many political actors some of whom find themselves in the corridors of political power which are contributing to creating a climate of fragile electoral environment in the country and cautioned those involve in such activities to desist in the best interest of the country.
BFF, in the same vein, expressed disappointment that elections which are characterized by brazen acts of violence and lawlessness are increasingly undermining peaceful community coexistence, defacing Montserrado County, and scaring away investors from Liberia because of the lack of adequate civic and voter education (CVE) before, and during electioneering eras.
“There are cogent evidence of some long-time residents of some communities who have been constrained to migrate to other communities to reside for fear of being subjected to politically-motivated attacks and violence during and after elections,” BFF further disclosed.
The Foundation, has, meanwhile recommended that electoral laws reform must seek to prohibit absurd campaign activities with potential to cause election violence at the behest of politicians and their supporters.
“Elections should not only be transparent, but also free, fair and credible,” BFF emphasized.
It added that some of the recent elections conducted in Montserrado County were generally “free and fair but grossly suffered dearth of fairness in terms of access to voting population, indefinite election dates, coupled with abrupt pronouncement of new election dates to the surprise and inconvenience of some candidates, civil society stakeholders, and especially voters.”
The Foundation maintains that the creation of intimidating atmosphere during elections is one of the factors that is fast discouraging many potential voters from participating in electoral processes.
BFF further observes that “the conduct of elections without adequate financial and logistical support to the National Elections Commission (NEC), for vigorous civic education and timely election preparations consistent with the Liberian constitution and other electoral laws amounts to grave political risk to the nation’s hard-won peace and security, something which the Foundation stressed, should not be taken lightly by government and other electoral partners.
“The essence of adequate civic education is to ensure that voters and other stakeholders are well informed and educated to be law-abiding, self-regulatory and in compliance with electoral laws and practices,” BFF stressed.
At the same time, BFF lauded the Liberia National Police (LNP) and other joint security forces for their visibility at the recent rerun elections in Montserrado County District 15.
According to BFF, in the face of gross lack of civic education, the conduct of the District 15 polls would have been absolutely impossible without the robust measures employed by the LNP and other members of the joint security aimed at safeguarding the electoral process which outcome has now been accepted by competing parties.
BFF further said, early civic education, free of political biases is necessary to ensure that electorate conforms to self-regulations in future national elections.
Without the gallant role played by the joint security forces including the LNP, Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA), the rerun elections in Montserrado County District 15 would have been a serious security challenge.
BFF further asserted that the lack of sustainable civic education has the potential to undermine peaceful elections and often serves as an imperative for state authorities, under such circumstances, to overly safeguard electoral processes with police and other paramilitary personnel brandishing guns and other combat-ready regalia” to maintain law and order as was recently demonstrated in Montserado County District 15.
In the same vein, BFF has called on Liberians, particularly the youth of the country, to refrain from fear mongering, and all acts of violence and assume the responsibility to serve as Community Peer Mediators, and catalysts for peacebuilding, reconciliation, and national development at all times.
BFF further challenged Liberians, particularly youth and students to isolate wrongdoings and uphold good moral behaviors as they strive for quality education for productive and better future.
“A nation that fails to isolate wrongdoing will inevitably be consumed by it,” said BFF Founder/CEO, Augustine Sumoiwuo Arkoi.
At the same time, Mr. Arkoi has expressed the need for post-elections Youth Dialogue and reconciliation in Montserrado County.
Meanwhile, BFF has applauded the National Elections Commission (NEC) which investigated claims of electoral irregularities earlier flagged by former Representative candidate, Telia Urey, which led to the rerun elections in Montserrado County 15 recently.
The Foundation also praised the NEC for its commitment to impartiality, professionalism, and transparency exhibited at the just-end polls in District 15, such as the issuance of Final Registered Roll (FRR) booklets to political party representatives in every polling room for counter verification of electorate.
BFF also recognized and applauded the dedication of both local and international elections observers from civil society organizations (CSOs), including ECC, LEON, Women Situation Room/MARWOPNET), Liberia Council of Churches (LCC), the media among others who were fully represented and effectively monitored the electoral process in District 15.
BFF also observed with much appreciation the presence of representatives of foreign missions including officials of the United States Embassy accredited to Monrovia who monitored the recent rerun elections in Montserado County District 15 up to the close of polls and counting of ballots, a gesture which, according to the Foundation, reinforced public confidence, trust and security in said polls and further guaranteed the participation of electorate and observers.
According to BFF, the observations and reflections as contained in its report on the District 15 rerun elections are part its ongoing Liberia Democracy Sustainability Platform (DSP).
The report added that the DSP is dedicated to inspiring local communities and national consensus-building to accelerate improved human security relations, fundamental human rights, respect for the rule of law, and infrastructure development for sustainable peace and democratic governance in Liberia and the sub-region.