MONROVIA : Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and head of the West African Elders Forum delegation visiting Liberia has called on all stakeholders in the Liberian polity to ensure that the ensuing general election of October 10, 2023 should be peaceful, free and fair just as he commended Liberians for their enthusiasm and resilience shown thus far towards the fourth cycle of the democratic process since the end of brutal civil war in 2003.
Speaking on the outcome of the pre-election assessment visit to Liberia yesterday, the former Nigerian President said he was impressed with the various meetings he held with major stakeholders in the country including President George Manneh Weah, the leadership of the both houses of the national legislature, the Chief Justice Her Honor Sie-A-Nyene Gyapay Yuoh and the full bench of the Supreme Court, Madam Davidetta Brown Lassanah, some presidential aspirants , the various political parties, civil society groups, among others and the willingness of everybody for the electoral process to produce the result that will meet the wishes and aspirations of the people.
“We sincerely thank the stakeholders that we met during our mission for sparing their time to share with us their views on the state of the nation, especially the pending general election and their readiness to work for a peaceful election.
“Even where concerns were raised we are pleased with their willingness to address whatever gap that may exist before the election”, he said.
He however expressed concerns about complaints of attacks, threats and hate speech as the country approaches the campaign season in October, 2023 and called on everyone to embrace issues based campaigns, shun politics of bitterness and abusive languages which according to him have no place in progressive politics.
The former Nigerian President who led Nigeria from 2010 to 2015 spoke highly of the Liberia’s democratic credentials over the years and the hard fought peace after 14 years of brutal war, asserting that Liberia has a long history of democracy and a beacon of hope for the African continent having been the first independent African country and that success of the pending elections squarely rests on the shoulders of all Liberians.
“Given this impetus, we are hopeful that democracy has come to stay in Liberia. Democracy thrives in a peaceful environment and peace nurtures sustainable democracy; both are inseparable.
“On this note the West African Elders Forum commends the political parties that have signed the peace accord, popularly known as the Farming River Declaration. We encourage them to comply with the preamble of the pledge and refrain from acts of violence that will threaten the elections.
“We advise other parties and contestants who have not signed the peace accord to do so and ensure that the elections which will be held in October, 2023 will be peaceful”, Dr. Jonathan said.
Former President Jonathan suggested that as means of reposing confidence in the electoral process, all players in the election, especially the National Elections Commission (NEC) and security authorities should imbibe the culture of communicating their programs to the parties to ensure that the election process is going according to plan.
“We note that sometimes with the best intention, the lack of communication poses a huge challenge especially in times like this which could give room to doubts and misgivings”, he said.
He told the media briefing that the mission of the delegation which has also visited and witnessed elections in Gambia, Nigeria and recently in Sierra Leone is to work with stakeholders to mitigate signs of early warnings in the electoral process so as to avert any unfortunate situations that could undermine democracy.
He said a similar delegation from the Forum will visit Liberia again during the general election. He was accompanied also on the delegation by a former Prime Minister of Burkinabo Faso and former President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Kadrie Desire Ouedrago.