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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

LIBERIA: CSO COUNCIL EXPRESSES FRUSTRATION OVER VIOLENT CONDUCT OF CAMPAIGN ACTIVITIES BY POLITICAL PARTIES

Date:

MONROVIA – Despite calls by the National Civil Society of Liberia (NCSCL) and other rights-based groups as well as the signing of the Farmington River Declaration for a more civil and peaceful electoral process, the Council has expressed serious frustration over violent conduct of campaign activities by political parties.

The Council in a statement released on Thursday, August 17, 2023, under the signature of its Chairperson Madam Loretta Pope-Kai, indicated that hate speeches and violations of the laws including the very Farmington Declaration has been the order of the day, and as such, parties to this document must be reminded and do the needful to have violence-free elections.

NCSCL sees it as worrisome, the circulation of hate speeches and the violations of the laws including the Farmington River Declaration, stressing, parties must be reminded and mindful.

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“Despite all of our efforts in promoting a more peaceful process, we are getting being frustrated by the day by the violent activities of political parties, most especially the CDC and the UP. We are signaling out these two parties because all the complaints coming in are tied to them. As you may recall, we initially issued a press release on the first day of campaign against the CDC for tooting casket around Monrovia. Another time, there was a stone throwing battle between the CDC and the UP with several persons sustaining injuries in the process. This does not augur well for our nurturing democracy and parties involved must desist,” stated the Council.

NCSCL called on the ruling establishment and opposition to act in a manner and form that will promote peace and harmony for the growth and development of the society.

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Among other things, the Council urged the government’s functionaries that are involved with elections activities including the Ministry of Justice, the Liberia National Police (LNP), and the National Elections Commission (NEC) to be proactive in addressing these warning signs before they escalate into further chaos.

It can be recalled that the CSO Council, which is the apex body of all civil society organizations in the country, on the eve of the launch of the ongoing campaign, issued a statement in which it 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 reminded political actors to desist from engaging into 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.

In addition to the CSOs’ consistent calls for a peaceful process, 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.

On the 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 to 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).

But despite all these calls and documents signed, that ongoing campaign process has been violently tensed, especially between rival supporters of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and the former ruling Unity Party (UP).

In recent times, there have been wars of words between leaders of the two parties, most notably with the political leader of the UP.

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