MONROVIA – As political campaigns began across the country for the ensuing 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections, the National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NCSCL) says it is taken aback by the attitude exhibited by the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) with the portrayal of a casket bearing the photograph of another contender of the elections.
The Council in a statement released at the weekend pointed out that the action of the CDC to display the photo of Joseph Nyuma Boakai of the former ruling Unity Party is in sharp contravention of the Farmington Declaration signed by all parties.
It could be that 27 political parties including the CDC in April of this year signed a declaration, duped the “Farmington River Declaration” wherein they recommitted themselves to preventing electoral violence, impunity and injustice thus pledging that, where political conflicts occurred, they would address said conflicts through mediation or through legal means.
The parties also committed that their political campaign activities would be conducted in such a manner that would not only preserve but also enhance and maintain the peace and unity of Liberia.
Overall, the Farmington Declaration aims to prevent violence that tends to undermine the conduct of the ensuing October 10 Presidential and Legislative Elections. It is geared toward ensuring a violent-free electoral process, with political actors being cognizant of the need to maintain a peaceful environment before, during, and after the 2023 Elections.
The signing of the electoral peace pact came on the heel of continued violence at some biometric voter registration centers across Liberia, particularly in Montserrado County and most definitely in Electoral District #10 between rival groups loyal to Representative Yekeh Kolubah, and the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
Accordingly, the Council indicated that the action of the CDC has the propensity to spark serious tension that backtracks the gains made toward the holding of peaceful elections.
“The National Civil Society Council of Liberia is seriously taken aback by the manner and form in which the ruling establishment conducted its initial campaign activities across Monrovia yesterday. We see this as a clear violation of the Farmington Declaration that was signed by all parties including the CDC. We, therefore, take this time to call on the leadership of the party to desist the form of campaign that has the propensity to create unnecessary political tension. Liberia is all that we have and we don’t want our country to creep into the dark days of the 14-year ugly past,” said the statement under the signature of Chairperson Madam Loretta Alethea Pope-Kai
NCSCL, which is the apex body of all CSOs in the country, called on electoral stakeholders, mainly political parties and independent candidates, to approach the campaign with the construct of peace and nonviolence and ensure that the rights of women participating in the process are guaranteed and respected from start to finish.
The Council reminds political actors to desist from engaging in acts that undermine the peace and tranquility of the state, such as spewing hate messages against one another, inciting the youthful population to violence and bullying women political candidates.
“It will be considered bad politics if political parties and/or independent candidates incite their foot soldiers to damage campaign paraphernalia of other candidates, issue comments and/or statements that are denigrating and meant to stair commotion in the process and engage into practices that tend to scare and coward women into submission,” the Council noted.
“Furthermore, the Council is strongly calling on all traditional leaders across Liberia not to indulge in the use of tradition as an alibi to chase out women and non-society members from the campaign and electioneering processes, as doing so would amount to an infringement of the law that is punishable under Liberia’s jurisprudence. There has to be a dichotomy between tradition and politics in a way that the tradition is not used to bully others but to protect and defend the space for the free participation of all regardless of sex, gender and ideas. Tradition must be used as a strong supportive glue that ups the maximum feasible participation of everyone and not to mess up the game.”
“The National Civil Society Council of Liberia is aware, elections are not about enmity but a contestation of ideas over the handling of issues that matter to the electorates and the general welfare of the people and the country. As such, expressing how best to deal with the problems that have almost perennially bedeviled the country and its people should not be characterized by violent outbursts, dirty politics and shrewd machinations orchestrated with the intention of outmaneuvering those who sincerely play to the rules of the game,” added NCSCL.
Meanwhile, the CDC National Campaign Team in a press statement late Saturday evening also condemned the stressing that it was an “unacceptable work” of its youth league.
“The Weah-Taylor 2023 Campaign Committee of the Coalition for Democratic Change re-commits itself to the conduct of an issue-based campaign that emphasizes the exceptional record of development and good governance of His Excellency President George M. Weah, while also stressing the importance of maintaining a peaceful democratic environment,” indicated the communication signed by the National Campaign Manager Commissioners Lenn Eugene Nagbe stated.
The statement noted that the action is unacceptable and does not represent the set of activities that have been envisioned to characterize this crucial democratic exercise.
“The committee believes that the unprecedented gains the Weah Administration has made over the years provide sufficient nuggets for a massive victory in the upcoming elections. The Committee therefore urges everyone working towards this ultimate goal to remain on message,” the CDC campaign team among other things added.