West African Elders Weigh In on October Polls Laud Liberia for Peaceful Campaign; Call for Sustenance of Democratic Culture
MONROVIA: The importance and criticality of Liberia’s 2023 presidential and legislative elections transcend the borders of Liberia, appealing to the minds and hearts of the international community, particularly the West African sub-region which equally shares the brunt of the country’s internal strife.
Even the elders of the sub-region have been closely and keenly monitoring the prevailing political situation, releasing its first public statement following the two months of tense campaign towards polls tomorrow.
The umbrella group of the West African elders, called the West African Elders Forum (WAEF) is weighing in on the 2023 elections, first commending Liberians “for their abiding faith in the nation’s democracy, as exemplified in the mass participation in the 2023 electioneering activities, which culminated in the spirited closing campaigns of various parties which ended today, Sunday, October 8th 2023”.
WAEF noted that Liberia has, “in the last two decades, established a striking culture of peaceful elections and seamless transitions, for which we urge all stakeholders to strive to maintain this tradition by working to make the 2023 elections transparent, free and fair”.
The West African elders used their statement to urge the candidates and voters to be law-abiding and avoid actions that could have a negative impact on the elections and threaten the peace and stability the country has witnessed since the end of the civil war.
The elders include H.E Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, H.E Abdulsalami Abubakar; H.E Pedro Pires, H.E Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, H.E Ernest Bai Koroma, H.E Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, H.E Dioncounda Traore, H.E Thomas Boni Yayi, H.E Kadre Desire Quedraogo, H.E Aminata Toure, H.E Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, H.E Fatoumata Tambajang.
“We note the commitment to a non-violent, free, fair and transparent electoral process, as demonstrated by the signing of the Farmington River Declaration, and urge all candidates to abide by the dictates of the peace accord,” the group said. “However, we are deeply concerned by the recent reports of violent clashes in some parts of the country that led to the alleged death of two-party supporters in Lofa County.”
WAEF also condemned the “unfortunate incident and urges the concerned authorities to conduct diligent investigations with a view to preventing such acts of violence from happening during and after the elections.”
They encouraged parties and candidates, as they close their campaigns, to appeal to their supporters to conduct themselves peacefully and maintain law and order during and after the elections to promote progressive politics devoid of hate speech, personal attacks, incendiary rhetoric and violence. It is imperative that the candidates and their supporters commit to repeating the exemplary milestone achieved in 2017 when similar peace pledges were made and strictly adhered to in the interest of peace, progress and sustainable democracy.
The Forum also urged the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and the security agencies that manage the elections to exercise their mandate and independence in accordance with the nation’s laws to further build trust and guarantee the integrity of the elections.
The Forum, in line with its mandate of accompanying West African countries in their various efforts at consolidating their democracies, has engaged with Liberian stakeholders since July, when it first deployed a pre-election mission to Monrovia.
In the statement, the elders said: “On election day, members of the WAEF Mission who arrived in the country on Saturday, October 7, 2023, will visit polling stations in Monrovia to observe voting procedures and results collation process and will remain engaged until the results are declared, and the electoral processes successfully concluded.
The statement was signed Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan President Federal Republic of Nigeria (2010-2015) Chairman, Goolduck Jonathan Foundation (GJF) Head of WAEF Election Mission to Liberia Mr. Kadrie Desire Ouedrago Prime Minister of Burkinabo Faso (1996-2000) and former President of the ECOWAS Commission Deputy Head of WAEF Election Mission to Liberia.