MONROVIA – In the wave of recent electoral violence, the Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia is calling on the National Election Commission (NEC) to conduct an independent investigation and hold violators of electoral/campaign violence accountable on the basis of its electoral guidelines and the Farmington River Declaration.
On October 10, 2023, the NEC is expected to conduct presidential and legislative elections. The CSO Platform called is from the backdrop of last Thursday’s (August 10) bloody campaign violence that erupted between partisans of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and the former ruling Unity Party (UP) leaving four persons severely wounded.
In a statement today through its Secretary General, Mr. Adama K. Dempster CSO Platform alarmed that there will be more electoral and campaign violence, and that, “the worst is yet to come.”
“There has to be punishment or penalty for those in violations, adding while the human rights community is monitoring and documenting the various account of the elections, respect for electoral guidelines and the Farmington River Declaration signed by all sides is fundamental.”
“Human rights in elections applied to all sides,” Mr. Demspter stressed.
On 4 April, at the Farmington Hotel in Margibi, Liberia, leaders from 27 of 31 political parties signed the Farmington River Declaration. The Declaration was designed to ensure a nonviolent electoral process.
However, last Thursday’s bloody campaign violence erupted when the main opposition leader Amb. Joseph Nyumah Boakai was en route to his campaign headquarters on the Airfield in Sinkor, Monrovia to name a new batch of members to his 2023 campaign team when he was allegedly obstructed by the ruling followers.
As a result of the clashes, the former vice president had to cancel his activities as planned at his party’s campaign headquarters.
Some local online media platforms reported the incident live when CDC supporters allegedly obstructed the former vice president’s escort.
The CDC supporters allegedly attacked several UP supporters who were heading to their ‘Rescue Mission” campaign headquarters in the Old Immigration building in Montserrado County Electoral District #9.
The CDC supporters who staged the attack were said to have gathered at the Varmoma House on the main Tubman Boulevard to welcome President George Manneh Weah and his entourage in Montserrado Electoral District #9.
The bloody campaign violence comes less than a week after partisans of the ruling CDC paraded the principal streets of Monrovia with a casket decorated with photos of Amb. Boakai and marched to CDC headquarters.
There was a stone battle at the UP ‘Rescue Mission’ campaign office. Police fired tear gas canisters during the incident at the UP campaign office.
But the ruling CDC dismissed claims by the Unity Party (UP) that partisans of the CDC disrupted its UP activities…
In a statement issued late Thursday (August 10) the Weah-Taylor 2023 Campaign Committee clarified that the CDC’s ongoing district engagements of its standard bearer and Vice standard bearer, which were continuing on Thursday in Districts 9 and 10 of Montserrado County had been pre-announced a week before on various national media platforms. It said the CDC also communicated its key campaign dates to the National Elections Commission.
The Weah-Taylor 2023 Campaign Team in its statement signed Cllr. Kanio Bai Gbala, National Campaign Spokesman explained that despite these prior announcements, and recognizing that the Unity Party was seeking to provoke violence by deliberately ignoring the CDC’s prevailing Campaign Schedule and going ahead to plan their own event on the same day, decided to postpone the prescheduled start of activities in District 9 for more than four hours to avoid any conflicts with UP Partisans who had announced a Press Conference for 10 am on the same day (Thursday, August 10).
The CDC noted that as a result of the actions of the Unity Party, partisans of the Coalition for Democratic Change were brutalized by Unity Partisans during the activities today.
The Weah-Taylor 2023 Campaign Committee stated that it has called the attention of the National Elections Commission, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, the office of the ECOWAS representative and other well-meaning international partners to Thursday’s violence which it says was allegedly triggered by UP in flagrant provocation and urged their timely intervention to avert future recurrence.
However, Mr. Dempster noted no one party or candidate has more rights than the other, saying “When people or institutions signed and agreed to a policy or protocol/guidelines and they are found violating those very agreements… they should be punished regardless of the ruling party or oppositions or independent candidates.
“The human rights community, civil society, religious community, citizens, the Liberian people, regional and the international community seek peaceful elections.”
“We condemn all those involved in electoral violence be it individuals or parties,” he concluded.