Opposition Commits to Free, Fair Elections -As JNB Wants Monitoring of Indicators that undermine Peace
MONROVIA – Unity Party Standard-Bearer, Joseph Nyumah Boakai, Sr., says the opposition political parties in the country are committed to non-violent, free, fair and transparent legislative and presidential elections and stressed the need to monitor those indicators that would undermine the credibility of the elections as well as those that will trigger violence.
The UP political leader who spoke on behalf of this colleagues noted, “As we pen our signatures to this Farmington River Declaration that will commit us to a NON-VIOLENT, FREE, FAIR and TRANSPARENT Legislative and Presidential elections, we call on the National Elections Commission to consider extending the registration process in the first six counties…” so as to make up for the delays and technical problems that have led to many not being able to register.
He said, “Let us understand that while ensuring that elections are violence free simply because the people want to be in peace and harmony, Ambassador Boakai indicated, some of those elections have produced inefficient leaderships that are undermining the stability and development of the country.”
“Liberia is now on the threshold of a new democratic order having had a positive transition and we are determined to accelerate another peaceful transition free of violence. We are committed to a credible, free and fair process and I repeat the Credible, Free, fair and transparent process,
he stated emphatically.”
He spoke in Margibi County on behalf of opposition parties in Liberia at the Signing of the Farmington River Declaration 2023” held at the Farming Hotel in the presence of the international Community
He noted that after the 2017 legislative and presidential elections, a comprehensive report was made outlining several recommendations that would reform and standardize our electoral process.
“Sadly, all of the very brilliant recommendations that were proffered by our Supreme Court, ECOWAS, International and Local Partners were left to rot in the dustbin. It would appear like our government does not care about reforming the electoral process,” he alleged.
The UP Standard Bearer noted on behalf of his colleagues that the National Elections Commission is not the only institution involved with our elections. It is also critical to mention the role of the judiciary in expeditiously and lawfully concluding elections disputes, to ensure peaceful elections and discourage violence.”
Ambassador Boakai then thanked the United Nations, ECOWAS and all those International and Local Partners, and all Political Parties that have come again to affix their signatures to the Farmington River Declaration which is intended to affirm commitment to non-violent, free, fair and transparent elections in October of this year.
“It was at this same venue, the Farmington Hotel, where we signed a commitment to a non-violent election in 2017. I am glad to report here that the 2017 Legislative and Presidential elections under the auspices of the Unity Party led government were largely free of any major violent incident and one the most acclaimed transfer of power occurred,” the former Vice President said.
He added that the United Nations Charter, ECOWAS Protocols and our National constitution guarantees and protects the right to vote and for every citizen to determine their choice in the democratic process, pointing out that these tenets underpin the fundamentals of good governance and uphold the will of the majority of our country.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Boakai is calling for the extension of the biometric voters’ registration, and says the call intends to make up for the delays and technical problems that have led to many not being able to register. Ambassador Boakai noted that not doing so will be an act of deliberately disenfranchising Liberian citizens from participating in the elections.
The Unity Party Political leader observed that these incidents are particularly prominent in District 10 Montserrado and Grand Cape Mount. In Cape Mount, the UP has been observed with the trucking of Sierra Leoneans from across the borders by businessman, Idrissa Massaley, who is believed to be a supporter of the CDC.
“We are told by executives of our party from Cape Mount that this has led to violence in Jeijuah, Mano River, Bambala, and Tieni between those that are trucking people from Sierra Leone and those attempting to put a stop to such violation of our laws,” he said.
Ambassador Boakai was addressing the signing ceremony of the Farmington River Declaration at the Farmington Hotel, Margibi County yesterday.
The UP flagbearer emphasizes a transparent voter registration process as one of the key elements to having a violence free election, saying several issues have been reported since the start of the ongoing Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) process.
He recounted that there are reports of technical problems that are causing slowness of the registration process. Some problems include Printers assigned to registration centers go off frequently; registration officers coming late and leaving early; frequent shortage of cards that are used to produce voter ID cards. This is happening across several registration centers across the Bomi, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Margibi and Montserrado Counties and the length of time it takes the solar panel to generate power from the sun usually causes a delay start to the registration process.
The former Vice President who came second in the 2017 presidential elections that brought President Weah to power further indicated that the above factors are leading to long stay in queues without registration of people who want to register and participate in the determination of the next leadership of the country.
He said some electorates have even hinted that they are tired and may not go to registration centers again. This in our opinion is discriminating against the voters,” adding voter trucking where they have seen financially induced voter trucking from other districts or counties to another in the interest of particular aspirants.
He maintained that since the assumption of leadership by President Weah and the CDC, the people of Liberia have witnessed several bi-elections that have been marred by violence. “While on her campaign launch on November 17, 2018, the UP candidate in the bi-election to replace Rep. Saah Joseph of District 13, Cornelia Kruah-Togba, was violently attacked by people believed to have been partisans of the CDC, and noted that many were wounded in that violent incident.
“Similarly, on August 17, 2019, the Telia Urey campaign in the District 15 bi-election to replace the Late Hon. Adolf Lawrence was attacked by opposing sides. This time, the attackers targeted Telia’s personal vehicle in an attempt to hurt her and burned the vehicle she was riding,” Ambassador Boakai explained.
He narrated that those who carried out the planned attack wounded some of Telia’s supporters. “All this was an attempt to instill fear in the supporters of Telia. The 2020 Special Senatorial Election in Gbarpolu was also marred by violence,” he recounted.
Ambassador Boakai indicated that It has become a common practice in Liberia not to investigate electoral violence. “Hence, no investigations were commissioned into any of these violent incidents and were all left to slide under the umbrella of impunity. We still have the perpetrators roaming in the streets freely waiting for future orders to commit electoral violence repeatedly,” according to him.
The Unity Party, he maintained, even more than our international partners and the NEC, wants an election that will be free of any form of physical or emotional violence. “While we are all ensuring that the October 10, 2023 polls will be violent, free, fair and transparent, we like to remind our partners and the NEC that the mere absence of violence is not the only requirement for a satisfactory election.
Boakai said there are other cardinal ingredients that when not considered and not implemented, there will be a high probability of not having as much violent free election as we are all yearning to have.
“Together with our international partners and mainly the government, we must ensure that these elections are CREDIBLE and in addition monitor the indicators that would lead to the election not being credible, free, fair, transparent and non-violent. It is, therefore, of key importance that we emphasize and prevent the triggers of violence rather than just stating that “we want violence free elections” he intimated.