Political Parties Commit to Peaceful Elections in Liberia at “Farmington River Declaration 2023”- Latest Liberian News
Farmington, Margibi County- Twenty-Seven of the thirty-one registered political parties in Liberia have commented themselves to uphold the principles of peaceful elections and respect for the rule of law in the 2023 general elections.
They made the commitment at the signing of the “Farmington River Declaration 2023” on Tuesday, a strong commitment to preventing potential instances of violence, including violence against women during the electoral process.
The ceremony is organized by Liberia’s National Election Commission (NEC), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the United Nations (UN).
Speaking as a political leader and standard-bearer of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), President Weah called on all political leaders in the country to ensure that their supporters and the wider electorate who follow them also adhere to the spirit of what they have signed.
“Let me pinpoint the need for all of us political leaders and our political parties, supporters, and the electorate in general, to also uphold the pledge to prevent violence against women in the elections, and treat our women with civility and with respect.
Commenting on women’s political participation in the pending elections, the Liberia leader stressed the need for political parties, supporters, and the electorate in general, to also uphold the pledge to prevent violence against women in the elections and treat them with civility and with respect.
He said, “Beyond physical violence, women in elections or politics in Liberia have often faced harassment, discrimination, and psychological abuse, both in person and online”.
Also speaking, the political leader of the opposition Unity Party (UP), Joseph Boakai stressed the need for the National Election Commission (NEC) to extend the registration process in the first six counties.
“As we pen our signatures to this Farmington River Declaration that will commit us to a NON-VIOLENT, FREE, FAIR and TRANSPARENT Legislative and Presidential elections, we call on the National Elections Commission to consider extending the registration process in the first six counties,” Amb. Boiakai said.
Amb. Boakai’s statement follows several complaints that the BVR process is slow and can not register every eligible voter across the country.
Since the launch of Liberia’s first-ever BVR, the process has been marred by a series of setbacks in some places.
In Monterrado District #10, the process at some stations is halted due to continued violent clashes between supporters of Rep. Yekeh Y. Kolubah and the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). Allegations of voter trucking in Montsrrado and elsewhere, and the slow pace at which the exercise is being conducted are some of the challenges confronting the registration exercise.
These have prompted politicians from the ruling party and opposition blocs, as well as civil society, to call for an extension in the exercise to allow more people to register.
But at a news conference in Monrovia, NEC Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansannah clarified that the contract end date of 17th April 2023 for temporary BVR staff does not in any way indicate that voter registration in the phase one county will be extended beyond 9 April 2023.
Lansannah said the contract is a generic one drawn for one month- from the 18th of March 2023 to the 17th of April 2023.
she said the eight days from 9th April to 17th April will be used for temporary BVR staff to compile their reports, and for NEC to retrieve its equipment and materials deployed in the field, and process the payment for staff.
“Let me reiterate that the BVR in Phase One ends on 9 April 2023 and there will be no extension,” Lansanah emphatically declared.
However, the former Vice President believes that the failure of the election body to adhere to their calls will be a violation of the rights of Liberians to participate in the pending elections.
Since the commencement of Biometric Voter Registration (BVR), the process has been marred by technical glitches, a lack of sufficient cards, slow pace among others.
In June 2017, twenty of Liberia’s twenty-two (22) registered political parties met in Margibi, at Farmington, and signed the document now known as the “Farmington River Declaration”.
In the document, political leaders and their parties committed themselves to the process of an orderly and peaceful election. They agreed, individually and collectively, to prevent electoral violence, impunity, and injustice; and pledged before the ECOWAS Heads of State, who was present in Liberia at the time attending the 51st Summit of that Organization, that if ever and whenever such conflicts occurred, they would address them through mediation or legal means.
It is almost six years since the agreement was signed, just a few months before the 2023 general elections.