MONROVIA — Former President Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has taken a significant step towards maintaining peace in Liberia by inaugurating the Women’s Situation Room (WSR), an initiative spearheaded by the Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC).
By Francis G. Boayue
Comprising distinguished women from the Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace, and Security, the Women’s Situation Room has launched its 2023 edition. This innovative approach aims to engage women and youth actively in championing peaceful electoral procedures.
The program was unveiled on Tuesday, August 29, 2023, at Monrovia City Hall, where former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf urged voters to exercise wisdom while making pivotal decisions in the impending elections.
“Your vote is your power, so exercise caution in your choice of candidates this year,” she emphasized.
Madam Sirleaf stressed the importance of informed voting among women and young citizens, underscoring that their selection would impact the nation’s trajectory for the next six years, influencing governance that caters to the marginalized and the common populace.
Extending her remarks, the former president commended the Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) officials for their enduring commitment to peace-building over the years.
“As the real promoters of peace, you women hold the key; let’s persist in our efforts for the betterment of the nation,” the former Liberian President conveyed to a diverse assembly comprising women, youth, motorcyclists, and others.
In her contribution, Madam OluBanke King-Akerele, Chair of the ABIC Board of Directors and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, elucidated that the Women’s Situation Room champions women’s leadership in conflict resolution and peace establishment, aligning with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325.
“The WSR functions as an early warning and rapid response mechanism to election-related conflicts and violence in African nations,” she explained.
She highlighted that the WSR had been effectively employed in other African countries, including Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda in 2016. Operating as a non-partisan platform, the mechanism focuses on swift intervention during incidents of election-related violence.
Expanding on her comments, Madam OluBanke King-Akerele condemned a recent episode of electoral violence involving supporters of the governing Coalition for Democratic Change and the Unity Party in Nimba County, resulting in a fatality.
“Acts of aggression during this crucial period should be universally condemned, as they endanger the peace we’ve cherished for years,” the former Foreign Minister asserted.
She stressed that such incidents contradicted the spirit of the Farmington River Declaration, a framework through which political parties and presidential candidates committed to shunning all forms of violence throughout the electoral process.
The Farmington Declaration framework mandates presidential candidates and political party leaders to encourage their followers to exercise tolerance, uphold the rights of others, and maintain decorum and serenity during this pivotal electoral phase. Intimidation and coercion against political adversaries stand contrary to the principles of participatory democracy.
Consequently, she urged the Liberia National Police (LNP) to conduct an inquiry into the violence that claimed a life. She called for the arrest and proper legal proceedings against the perpetrators, in line with the principles of due process of law.