We Need a Peaceful By-Election in Lofa

THE MUCH-AWAITED Senatorial by-election for Lofa County to fill the vacancy created by the inability of Brownie Jeffery Samukai to take the seat he had earlier won in 2020 predicated on the Supreme Court ruling comes up tomorrow, Tuesday, June 28, 2022. In a contest that has raised the electoral fever in recent time, the six candidates gunning for the seat along with their parties, agents and supporters have been crisscrossing the length and breadth of Lofa county canvassing for votes, as the campaign process closes today in keeping with the electoral laws of the country.

SO FAR, THERE has not been any incident of pre-election violence or disturbance. This is commendable and we must thank every stakeholder in the process for the level of calm being observed. It is our ardent hope that the decorum should be maintained to the logical end of the day.

BE AS IT may, we wish to state the need for a peaceful and orderly conduct of the election, and for all interest parties to allow the verdict from the contest to count because a free and fair election is not only about people casting votes but ensuring that the result of casting the votes should be reflected in who becomes the winner and the loser without any altercation to the outcome.

HISTORICALLY, SINCE THE first post war elections, the country has conducted series of elections, which despite some challenges, were hailed for meeting the benchmarks of international standards. We, therefore want to be optimistic that this particular by-election does not fall below that threshold.

IT IS VERY important to note that the Lofa County By-election has two significant stakes in our political development going to the general elections in 2023. In the first place, it will finally complete the list of the number of senators required by the constitution being 30 for the entire country, with two senators for each county as proper representation of the people of the county and the nation as a whole. The successful conduct of the Lofa By-election means Lofa County will also now have its own fair share of full representation after has being denied for almost two years. On the other hand, the Lofa county election will serve as a litmus test for the bigger contest next year when the nation will be conducting its fourth post-war general elections to elect a President, Vice President, 30 senators and 73 representatives throughout the country.

IF WE DON’T get it right in Lofa as a small undertaking in 2022, we may not get it right on the bigger stage in 2023. If we get it right in Lofa, there will be hope that we will leverage the Lofa outcome for a successful 2023, against the backdrop that our national security arrangement rests in our hands since the departure of UNMIL before 2018.

WE ARE HOWEVER encouraged by the initiatives and resolutions taken by the various political parties, actors and others to buy into the call by our international partners to make the contest hitch-free. We call on the government to play its part like in previous electoral activities by allowing a level playing field to exist so that the citizens will have confidence in a free, fair, transparent electoral process.

AS THE MAIN umpire, the National Elections Commission (NEC) is expected to exert its authority granted under our laws for the conduct of a smooth election devoid of partisanship so that the citizens will have all reasons to believe NEC is up to the task for the bigger game in 2023. So far, if her past records with similar elections are anything to go by, the voters will have every reason to believe that their democracy is in safe hands in 2023.

LASTLY, WE WANT to remind ourselves as citizens that we have had elections coming and going over the years and we have soldiered on to maintain our peace despite some minor distractions. It is our hope that we continue to do so because we have all witnessed how unbearable situations can be if political crises are not handled well. Let us avoid any unnecessary activities in Lofa that may adversely impact on our peaceful co-existence. Let there be a peaceful by-election in Lofa County.

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