Liberia’s Leading Human Rights Lawyer Warns ECOWAS Member States Against ‘Militancy’ in Pending Elections
The Chairperson of the Independent Commission on Human Rights (INCHR), Cllr. Dempster Brown is warning members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to discourage “Militancy” for peaceful elections.
Out of the fifteen member states of ECOWAS, three are expected to go to the polls this year to elect their new leaders.
The Nigerian presidential election will be held on 25 February 2023 to elect the president and vice president. Other federal elections, including elections to the House of Representatives and the Senate, will also be held on the same date while state elections will be held two weeks afterward on 11 March. The February general election has raised a great deal of expectation among young voters who are eager to see the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s rule.
As the country grapples with an economic downturn and heightened insecurity, Nigerians hope that the exercise can bring in leaders with the vigor to tackle their country’s decline.
In June, Sierra Leone will hold presidential and parliamentary elections. President Julius Maada Bio is expected to seek a second term.
His Sierra Leone People’s Party will be hoping to retain its majority in the national assembly, which has been threatened by rising discontent over the high cost of living.
Africa’s oldest republic is slated to hold presidential and parliamentary polls in October in what will be a milestone for a country still recovering from years of civil war and a devastating epidemic. President George Weah has faced criticism for failing to tackle rampant corruption and for being away from the country to watch the World Cup in Qatar while the country faced an economic downturn.
However, speaking during a one-day lecture series to promote free and fair elections in West Africa, organized by INCHR and the Office of the Special Representative of the President of the ECOWAS commission to Africa in commemoration of 2023 ECOWAS Human Rights Day, Cllr. Brown said free and fair elections are key to maintaining peace in the west African region.
He wants African leaders to desist from encouraging militancy among youth in the country.
“To have free and fair elections without conflict, political parties should avoid militancy, political parties should avoid recruiting young people and making them wear military uniforms,” Cllr. Brown said.
“If we want peaceful elections in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, we should avoid militancy,” he added.
The Human Right Boss also called on politicians to refrain from Trucking voters from one location to another in their quest to win elections- a possible instigator of violence.
Trucking in the context of Liberia refers to transporting voters to register to vote or to the polls to vote to influence the results of an election.
Findings from the Liberia Electoral Access and Participation Survey, 2020(LEAP III) indicates that three-quarters of the survey population were aware of trucking. Respondents knowing someone who was trucked was at 44% during LEAP III, and (2) direct experience with trucking which was at 9% in the same reporting period.
Also commenting on the workings of the National Elections Commission in the ECOWAS region expected to go to the polls this year, Cllr. Brown warned the respective commission to give the election to the winners and not favor anybody.
“Give it to the person who wins the elections, don’t take a side,” Cllr. Dempster warned.