EDITORIAL: Hailing All Parties, Candidates So Far, and Calling for Continued Nonviolent Dispositions
ABOUT 29 DAYS left to witness nearly two million citizens cast their ballot in the October 10, 2023 polls in which some 1030 Liberians are contesting very intrinsically fiercely for various elective positions, the country is virtually so far peaceful and calm. There are no reports of violence and conflicts erupting in any part of the country. This is particularly delightful and welcoming for the country, not because violence had marred recent elections in many neighboring countries, leaving several dead and property destroyed, but also because the pending general and presidential polls are the first that Liberia is holding without the full and direct security and logistical responsibilities and supports that the international community provided in nearly two decades.
NOTWITHSTANDING AN ISOLATED fracas that took place in District 10 or thereabout between the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and the former ruling Unity Party (UP) resulting into an injured person, and minor disruptions limited to that constituency, the rest of 72 electoral districts and 15 counties a breathing huge air of peace and stability even in the face of bellicose political rhetoric and grim campaign overtures. Clearly so far, political parties are living consistent with the terms and conditions of the Revised Farmington River Declaration 2023 which, amongst other things, obliges signatories and their supporters—political leaders, party chairpersons and other duty bearers—to uphold the principles of peaceful elections and respect the rule of law. The NEC, the UN, ECOWAS, and international partners who organized the signing process have overly accentuated the importance and centrality of peaceful elections to Liberia’s stability and prosperity.
FEARS AND ANXIETIES loom largely because for quite a long time, since the elections of 1985, no general and presidential elections, and even by-elections in the country took place in the country without substantial direct presence and support of the international community. That’s been whooping 38 years ago.
AN INCUMBENCY PARTY overseeing elections and singly largely footing the costs in financial and logistical terms is something the country and its people are not used to, a least not in the last four general and presidential election eras—1996, 2005, 2011 and 2017. This has particularly fueled fears and anxieties not just about violence and disruptions of the electoral process but also about incumbency manipulations and possible rigging. But with the Coalition for Democratic Change government credited for conducting a couple of by-elections, including midterm senatorial elections in which it last a coveted seat—midterm elections that were widely declared peaceful, fair, and transparent—and given the fact that over half of 2023 campaign period now has now elapsed without chaotic and concerning incidents, there seems much reassuring prospect for a more peaceful and credible polls October 10.
PARTIES AND CANDIDATES therefore deserve commendation, and we want to take advantage of this space to hail them for the way and manner in which they have conducted themselves for far, controlling their respective swarms of partisans and supporters in a highly peaceful, nonviolent manner.
FOR US, THIS is not just about the Farmington River Declaration signing; it is more a demonstration of patriotism, mature and superior democratic attitude—something that is rare in the West African sub-region and Africa in general. It indicates also that Liberians, and those who head them on various political aisles, are prepared very genuinely to consolidate the country’s credential as a firmly established democracy in the comity of nations, claiming its former place as a safe haven for socially and politically afflicted peoples from around the world.
WARNING IS THAT it is not all over yet. Because meanwhile, things are still shaky and the country is still somewhat flustered in trepidations until the final consummation of the process. Meanwhile, the campaign continues in intensity as various parties and candidates widen their nets over the population landscape. Meanwhile, equally grimly resolved parties and candidates are raising their voices and rhetoric, planting their tentacles here and there to claw away more followers and voters that rivals are otherwise also eyeing and pursuing. Not a single party—from the so-called bigger parties and the least perceived underdogs—is keeping its eyes from victory, and to have it no matter what.
IN THIS CASE, there still an exigency for call to all and sundry to continue to exercise maturity, patriotism and a peaceful disposition already begun. Thus, we urge each party and candidate to know that, at the end of the contest for every given position, only one person or party will be declared winner, and that the win of that party or candidate does not amount to the end of Liberia or the democratic process in this country.
OUR POLITICAL FOLKS need to know that the most successful leaders in the history of democracy are those who contested and were multiply defeated–defeats from which they drew strength to win subsequently and to succeed in their leadership because taught them to appreciate the value of the job they fought for and won, leaving laudable imprints on the sand of time.
LET ALL OF us know that the real winners in the 2023 elections won’t be those to be declared by NEC as victors, but those who contest with all their strength nonviolently and honorably and who take their defeat gracefully. History is looking forward to achieving such a group of contestants in the 2023 elections.