AS LIBERIANS GO to the poll tomorrow to elect their President, one thing that must be cardinally upheld by all political parties and their supporters is to keep the peace in the country. This is an important factor towards development, progress and improvement of the country by whichever party that may emerge winner of the November 14 runoff, and is equally a recipe for sustaining our fledgling democracy.
WE ARE SAYING this because the 2023 process is punctuated with developments that posed threats to our peaceful coexistence as a people and a nation; developments which, if not managed could have inflamed the country even before the runoff elections that brought the Opposition Unity Party and its supporters and the incumbent Coalition for Democratic Change and its followers to head in this second round of the polling to determine who is to be the President.
THE OMEN OF confusion that has the potential to take this country back to its gloomy days ranges from militarizing the democratic process, vestiges that borders on voter trucking, intolerance of each other’s views amongst members and supporters of respective individual parties, mudslinging and suspicions of vote rigging. All of these are undoubtedly fueled by the factionalization of the media that has embraced hate messages by partisan media institutions.
TO SCAN THROUGH some of the referential events that have attended the process, the electoral violence between the CDC and the UP that reportedly left a CDCian dead in Foyah, Lofa County, the clash between All-Liberia Coalition Party (ALCOP) and the CDC on the Japanese Freeway in Gardnersville, reports of ballot tampering during the first round counting of ballots are amongst the incidents that threatened the country’s fragile peace and tranquility and must be avoided.
JUST AS WE anticipate the runoff, reports emanating from Nimba County of clashes between some members and supporters of both the CDC and the UP where Mr. Anthony Quiwonkpa and others on the one hand with the CDC and Senators Prince Yormie Johnson and Jeremiah Kpan Koung are said to be in the middle of the clashes that resulted to a number of persons sustaining various kinds of injuries.
BESIDES, LIBERIA HAS a history where media outlets, especially the radio and online television stations have the tendency to pre-announce election results in the favor of their political masters, which also must be avoided this time around.
GIVEN THESE INSTANCES, we condemned in the strongest possible terms all attempts at creating turmoil, anxiety and violence within the nation during these election and joined the Chairman of the Joint Security of Liberia, Attorney General Frank Musa Dean in forewarning would be trouble makers, especially those of two contenders and their followers each against declaring themselves winners in the absence of the official declaration of the election result by the National Election Commission (NEC) which is the statutory agency responsibility for the announcement of the results.
DURING THE A press conference, the Justice Minister succinctly said the two parties – meaning the CDC and the UP – should refrain from celebrating until the final official results are declared and announced during these crucial and challenging times in our history, and urged Liberians from using the social media to issue threats.
SAYING THE CONTENDING parties need to resolve election grievances peacefully, the Justice Minister said while the Joint Security will always exercise restraint in handling electoral matters, the security will not withstanding deal with all unlawful aggressions with reasonable and proportionate force on ground that and such unlawful acts run contrary to concerted efforts by Liberians at building a better country, while also undermining the hard- earned peace and security being enjoyed, pose a direct challenge to democracy and national unity.
ACCORDING TO JUSTICE Minister Frank Musa Dean, while the Joint Security will always exercise restraint, it will, notwithstanding, meet with reasonable and proportionate force all unlawful aggressions that tend to derail the peace of the country. Minister Dean at the same times added that any such disruption of the peace by any individual or group of individuals does not only undermine the hard- earned peace and tranquility being enjoyed and run contrary to the concerted efforts of Liberians for a better country, it also, pose a direct challenge to democracy in the country and national cohesion and unity.
THE JOINT SECURITY fervently cautions against all acts that have the propensity to fan violence, and set into motion actions that threaten Liberia’s peace, including the airing of political prejudices that could lead to violent reactions. We agree with the Minister considering the fact that the fratricidal civil debacle of the 1990s and early 2000s originated from electoral maleficence by state actors who were participants of the election of 1885.
DRAWING FROM THE lessons of those elections and the more than 250,000 people that were killed with millions of property damage as the result of the pattern of behavior during 1985 elections, Liberians needs to be very meticulous on how we go about this runoff election, as electorates proceed to the polls on Tuesday, November 14, 2023. We therefore urge the government, the opposition bloc and all well-meaning Liberians as well as our civil society and international partners to guide the Tuesday, November 14 presidential election so that the true winner of the election will be given the crown to avoid the country sliding back to its bitter past.
IN CONCLUSION, LET us all have our hand on deck to keep the peace at the end of the election instead of destroying our country for self-aggrandizement, for keeping the peace is a business for us all.