Liberia: National Elections Commission Must Lead Liberia’s Electoral Process to Prevent Disorder
PAYNESVILLE – TWENTY YEARS HAVE passed since Liberia emerged from the harrowing grip of senseless and brutal civil wars that claimed the lives of around 250 thousand people. Throughout this period, Liberia has been fortunate to experience a relative state of peace.
FOLLOWING THE SO-CALLED Christian-Muslim conflict in 2004, a year after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) in Accra during the tenure of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) led by the late Charles Gyude Bryant, Liberia has largely avoided large-scale violence.
LIBERIA HAS ALSO achieved substantial strides in strengthening its democratic foundations. The upcoming presidential elections mark the fourth consecutive occurrence, along with various legislative elections. This year’s Presidential and Legislative Elections on October 10 will not only be conducted under the auspices of Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) but will also be the first Presidential polls overseen by the Liberia National Police in the absence of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).
IT IS NOT ONLY Liberians within the nation and abroad who are closely monitoring the electoral proceedings; the international community, including entities such as the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the United Nations—integral actors in bringing peace to Liberia—are also observing with keen interest.
IN A BID TO prevent potential violence, ECOWAS partnered with the NEC to secure a commitment from political parties and independent candidates through the Farmington Declaration, pledging to uphold peaceful elections. Among its provisions, the declaration calls for the resolution of electoral disputes through legal means and a rejection of violence as a solution. It also calls for refraining from provocative actions that could incite violence.
HOWEVER, SINCE THE commencement of the campaign season, we have witnessed alarming breaches of the Farmington River Declaration. On the first day, supporters of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change paraded through Monrovia’s streets, carrying a casket adorned with images of former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai, the opposition Unity Party’s standard-bearer. Chanting anti-UP slogans, the supporters declared that their demonstration symbolized Amb. Boakai’s political demise.
MOST RECENTLY, A violent clash erupted between backers of the CDC and UP, resulting in injuries to several partisans from both sides, each side blaming the other.
AMIDST THESE INCIDENTS, the NEC has remained passive. We, at K-News, emphasize the NEC’s constitutional obligation to conduct and oversee the 2023 elections impartially. The NEC should proactively investigate cases of electoral violations and ensure that all political parties adhere to their responsibilities fairly, devoid of partiality or bias. The NEC must not shy away from acting justly and must hold accountable any parties found guilty of breaching Liberia’s electoral laws.
THE UPCOMING ELECTIONS carry immense significance and serve as a litmus test for Liberia’s delicate peace. The NEC’s active involvement is imperative to maintain order, uphold democracy, and safeguard the nation’s progress toward stability.