MONROVIA – As the country closes in on the much-publicized 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections, the National Civil Council of Liberia (NCSCL) sees too many early warning signs that must be given attention and addressed so as to avert creeping violence in the elections.
Madam Loretta Alethea Pope-Kai, Chairperson of the Council, indicated that elections being a civil matter and in order to prevent these foreseeable conflicts, the Government of Liberia (GoL) must see it as a duty and responsibility to equip various state security forces involved with elections.
She pointed out that equipping state security forces make them adequately prepared to handle all issues around the electoral processes.
The NCSCL boss spoke Thursday, July 27, 2023, following a high-profile meeting with the joint fact-finding mission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU).
Madam Pope-Kai believes that the empowerment of state security forces, especially the Liberia National Police (LNP), would help in the process of conflict prevention rather than getting the military involved when things get out of hand.
“In our region, we have similar issues, and we saw how it ended in the Sierra Leonean Elections. There were lots of early warnings that were not paid attention to. So I think these early warning signs must alert our minds to act and this is where the role of the civil society comes in. We play a very pivotal role when it comes to elections and part of our role is to remind government and policymakers to act,” said the CSO Council head.
“So we think that there is a need to provide logistical support to the police because they have to be around. The security issue is a very important matter as we approach these elections. As we enter the campaign period from August 5, there will be a lot of things that might lead to conflict in various communities and so the security needs to be empowered to be deployed in all areas so as to keep the peace candle burning,” she furthered.
While craving the national government for support, Madam Pope-Kai wants the police to act in a manner and form that will help restore public trust upon its shoulders moving into the elections.
“The police have lost public trust and so there are growing militants in various political parties and if care is not taken that could trigger violence as well. And so state security, most especially the police, must refrain from all acts of partisanship to restore that public confidence,” she warned.
At the same time, the CSO Council Chairperson has reminded political parties to conduct themselves in line with their own commitment with the signing of the Farmington Declaration.
As an umbrella organization for all CSOs, she vowed that NCSCL will monitor the activities of all political parties that signed onto the Farmington Declaration to promote peaceful and credible elections.
“We don’t want them to slip away from what they have signed onto. We want them to abide by the Farmington Declaration; they must hold it and hold themselves very accountable for what they have signed,” she stated.
She asserted that NCSCL has independently played its role and will continue to do so without fear or favor.
According to her, the Council will continue to monitor and document all incidences that would be observed before, during and after the elections with the hope that NEC takes those issues raised very seriously.
As part of the many initiatives undertaken, Madam Pope-Kail disclosed that the Council has been involved with a lot of activities such as training.
And as the NCSCL plays the watchdog role, also wants political parties to join the process of creating civil voters education so that the people are abreast with their civil rights as voters.
Meanwhile, the head of the mission, Professor Attahiru Jega, in a briefing note, vowed to work through different stakeholders’ groupings to prevent a crisis in the electoral process.
This, he said the first thing to ensure is to curb all these conflict triggers that could undermine the peacefulness of the electoral process.