MONROVIA – On the heels of the conduct of Liberia’s elections slated for later this year on 10 October, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Liberia (CABICOL), is urging the country’s electoral body, the National Elections Commission (NEC) to be impartial in the exercise of its duties.
CABICOL has also cautioned Liberians from various walks of life including media workers, security personnel, the dominant youthful population, and those eligible to vote this year, to ensure that the 2023 presidential and legislative elections are peaceful and violent-free.
In a statement recently released, CABICOL appealed to actors at the National Elections Commission to be professional and above reproach in the discharge of their functions, emphasizing that the credibility of the 2023 elections depends on the level of their professionalism.
“You must remain an impartial arbitrator of our electoral process,” CABICOL cautioned staff of the NEC, noting that by being impartial, the Commission and those currently serving there would be contributing to consolidating Liberia’s democratic process.
The CABICOL statement also admonished citizens of Liberia about the importance of pursuing peace during the electoral process, recalling that, especially so since for 14 years in the country’s current past history, peace eluded Liberians.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference stated that it is aware that during such an electioneering period; peace can be tested, adding, that’s why it’s fervently appealing to Liberians to preserve the peace before, during, and after the 2023 elections.
The Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in Liberia then stressed peaceful political campaigns during the 2023 electoral process, stating that electoral campaigns are not synonymous to ‘war’ as sadly depicted sometimes during the time of elections.
“Being of different political persuasions is a sign of our fundamental rights to choose who we want to lead us. Therefore, there is no need to see one another as ‘enemies’ but rather competitors to serve,” CABICOL stated.
The group of Bishops asserted that physical and verbal attacks on opposing candidates have no place in Liberia’s emerging democracy, stressing that civility be the order of the day.
“We can propagate our agenda without recourse to the use of violence,” the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Liberia urged.
Regarding turning out to vote on 10 October, CABICOL reminded Liberians that it is a sacred duty and obligation on the part of all eligible voters to turn out on Elections Day to vote and elect those to lead the country following the 2023 elections.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference intimated that turning out to vote on 10 October is not only a moral obligation but also a patriotic duty, adding, “In so doing, we are helping in the promotion and safeguarding of our nascent democracy.”
The Catholic Bishops Conference, which is of the belief that “Failure to choose is already a choice, and a bad choice” at that, warned that there can be voters’ apathy in Liberia’s current dispensation, indicating that failure to vote is not only unpatriotic but also a serious omission in the fostering and maintenance of the peace of the country.
Additionally, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Liberia thanked media practitioners in the country, for what the group calls the indispensable role they play in safeguarding and promoting peace in Liberia, but pointed out that while it is true sensationalism is the modus operandi of the media, CABICOL was appealing that media practitioners be objective in the analysis of issues that matter.
“Remember, you owe it to God and the State to remain truthful in your reportage,” the religious group stressed.
The group used the occasion to call on Liberian youth never to allow themselves to be used as catalysts of violence during the electoral process of 2023.
“You remain precious in the maintenance of our peace and democracy,” CABICOL told Liberian youth, further urging that the youth of Liberia join other Liberians in contributing meaningfully towards the consolidation of the country’s democracy.
The group also cautioned members of the country’s security apparatuses, but not without first thanking them for the level of peace and security maintained thus far in Liberia.
CABICOL pleaded with national security forces that during this time, which the group described as a very important period in the history of Liberia, all political actors are given the same level of security, and that the rights of all Liberians be upheld and protected.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference, which for several reasons including the conduct of free, fair, and peaceful elections on 10 October, offered up a prayer to God, then called on all Catholics and those it referred to as men and women of goodwill, to join the group in offering up prayers for peaceful and violent free elections.