MONROVIA – As Liberia approaches its upcoming Presidential and General elections, the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) has strongly condemned the recent outbreak of electoral violence involving supporters of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and Unity Party (UP) in district #9 on Thursday, August 10, 2023.
By Francis G. Boayue
Cllr. Oscar Bloh, Chairperson of the ECC, denounced the violent acts perpetrated by both the UP and CDC parties, stating that these actions directly violate the principles and objectives set forth in the Farmington River Declaration.
The Farmington Declaration, a foundational framework, mandates that all presidential candidates and political party leaders remind their followers to uphold tolerance, respect the rights of others, and exhibit orderly and peaceful conduct throughout the crucial electoral period.
Cllr. Bloh emphasized that sowing fear and intimidation against political adversaries contradicts the fundamental tenets of participatory democracy. Notably, all political parties and presidential candidates recently pledged their commitment to the Farmington River declaration, vowing to abstain from any form of violence during the electoral process.
Nonetheless, the ECC is now urging the Liberia National Police (LNP) to promptly initiate a transparent investigation into the violent incident, which left several individuals injured. Cllr. Bloh further stressed the importance of apprehending the perpetrators and ensuring their prosecution in adherence to due process of law. This call arises from the ECC’s concern over the lack of public disclosure regarding outcomes from previous instances of electoral violence.
The ECC additionally utilized this platform to remind all political parties and independent candidates that while their right to campaign for votes is essential, it is equally vital to respect the constitutionally guaranteed right of all citizens to move freely. The ECC strongly discourages the use of inflammatory language and hate speech during the campaign period and encourages candidates to focus on issues rather than resorting to divisive rhetoric.
“The ECC further request that the LNP should arrest the perpetrators of the acts and prosecute them in keeping with the doctrine of due process of law. This call is in light of the ECC’s observation that the outcome of previous incidences of electoral violence has not been made available to the public.
“In addition, the ECC wishes to use this medium to remind all political parties and independent candidates that while they have a right to campaign for votes, this right goes with the responsibility to ensure that the rights of other citizens to free movement as guaranteed by the Constitution of Liberia must be respected at all times during this campaign period.”
The ECC put forth several recommendations:
The NEC (National Elections Commission) should solicit campaign plans from all political parties and independent candidates to ensure minimal scheduling conflicts.
Political parties are encouraged to centralize their supporters in designated locations for campaign engagement, eschewing street-based campaigning.
The LNP is urged to uphold neutrality and impartiality when providing security, regardless of political affiliations. The ECC expects the timely release of investigation findings proposed by their committee.
The LNP should effectively organize to safeguard citizens’ freedom of movement during the campaign period.
The international community and partners are called upon to collectively take punitive action against any political parties or independent candidates willfully infringing upon Liberia’s election laws, Campaign Regulations, or the Farmington Declaration.
The ECC underscores the critical significance of these elections in solidifying the nation’s delicate and emerging democracy. The committee unequivocally declares that electoral violence, in any form, undermines the country’s peace and security. Consequently, the ECC deems the responsibility for preserving internal peace and security to rest collectively with state security agencies, particularly the Liberia National Police, political parties, independent candidates, and the NEC. In no uncertain terms, the ECC stresses that electoral violence has no place in Liberian society if the nation is to strengthen its fragile peace and democracy.