An opinion y Jacob N.B. Parley
Considering the unfriendly political variables that are utterly making their way into the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections, Liberians, despite their speckled political picks and rights seem not to be prepared for any unhealthy happening that could roll back the gains made in sustaining twenty years of uninterrupted peace in a once troubled West Africa nation.
By this, I am making reference to August 18, 2003, when the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) was formally signed in Accra, Ghana. Thanks to God that the Liberian Government and partners were able to execute appropriate programs on August 18, 2023 to commemorate the endurance of peace for twenty years.
No doubt, reaching to this point took God’s intervention that our friends from the international community, particularly ECOWAS leaders had to come in to bring the dog-eat-dog situation that had engulfed Liberia under control.
However, it is important to mention in this opinion that all hands have to be on deck to sustain the peace.
Since the official commencement of campaign on 5th August, 2023, as announced by the National Elections Commission (NEC), Liberians, in their numbers continue to call on political actors and their followers to do away with practices that have the susceptibility to endanger the electoral process through violence. Considering the danger violence poses to any electoral process for the matter, especially for a country that was once torn apart through a bloody civil war fought along tribal lines, concerns and calls for a peaceful electoral process have been very unequivocal.
I am therefore touched by the level of cohesive and consistent concerns being expressed by various sectors of the Liberian society; including the media, civil society, religious institutions, the international community, etc.
Listing to the various airwaves and reading through the pages of local dailies, Liberians seem not to ready for any situation that will see additional innocent lives lost as the case was during the nearly fourteen-year civil war.
Majority of the callers on these radio talk shows keep making specific reference to young people, likely believed to be the conduit of violence in our country’s history to realize that violence has never ever found any amicable solution to Liberia’s daunting challenges. On this basis, the calls, concerns, or whatever way one may term it have been very persistent, unambiguous and never-ending since the 2023 race for elective positions began. Instead of violence, Liberians have been bold and serious about the 2023 Electoral process being driven by issues.
By so doing, the electorate will have the opportunity to listen to the platforms of the various candidates so that informed decisions are made at the ballot box. When I was putting this piece together, a professional colleague who and I were coincidentally at the same commercial internet café said to me: “Jacob, while waste your time talking about an issue-driven campaign in a society where majority of the voters, mainly the young people don’t care for these things?”
Well, I respect my colleague’s opinion, however, I see it as a duty-bound national obligation, driven by my conscious to always try to be part of the process of national renewal, healing, enlightenment, etc.
A Look At Some Notable Ones
1.On August 5, 2023, the official start of campaign, a group of young partisans of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) was seeing parading with a casket bearing several pictures of Unity Party presidential candidate, Joseph Nyumah Boakai. The action of the group sparked concerns in many circles, with people describing such as a bad sign for the 2023 electoral process.
However, just within no time, the Campaign Team of Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), headed by Eugene Nagbe sounded a caveat: “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.
It continued: “The Weah-Taylor 2023 Campaign Committee therefore deplores the action of some of its over-exuberant supporters who marched the streets toting a casket on Saturday during the official start of the period of political campaign for the Presidential and Legislative elections in October.”
It can also be recalled that during the observance of Liberia’s 176th Independence Day, President George Weah assured Liberians of a peaceful, credible and transparent elections.
The Liberian Chief Executive also reflected on the theme for the occasion: “Giving our People Hope for a Violence Free, Fair, Transparent, Inclusive and credible elections.
- It was also reported by the local media that supporters of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and opposition Unity Party (UP) were involved in violent campaign clashes in the Airfield Community on Thursday, August 10, leaving four persons allegedly wounded in a severe manner.
3.The Hot Pepper Newspaper, in its Friday, August 25, 2023 Volume 6 Edition11204 reported what was referred to as “Brutal Electoral Violence in Vayenglay Town,Soe Chiefdom, District 4, Nimba County.
One person was reported dead, with another wounded. The situation is said to have come about during an argument between supporters of the Unity Party/MDR on one hand and that of the CDC on the other hand.
- Besides, there have been increasing allegations of the tearing of campaign posters of some candidates by followers of rival political parties, etc. These penchants, as outlined in this article could drag us into serious trouble if not handled as quickly as possible.
Unity In Political Diversity?
I also want to seize this opportunity to commend the Campaign Team of Ambassador Joseph N. Boakai for a press statement, in which it extended condolences to families of members of the Girls of Weah who lost their precious lives in a motor accident in Gbarnga, Bong County. “With great sadness, our team has learned of a tragic accident sustained by members of the Girls of Weah on their way to participate in political activities of their political party,” a statement attributed to Mohammed Ali of the Unity Party said.
When I spoke to James Kiazolu of the ANC Sunday, August 27, 2023, via mobile phone, he confirmed that ANC Standard Bearer, Alexander B. Cummings also extended words of condolences to the CDC for the death of its partisans. “Mr. Cummings and the ANC sympathize and empathize with the CDC and the bereaved families,” said Kiazolu.
I am also moved by the decision of the Standard Bearer of the Liberian People’s Party, Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe who is said to have extended similar words of condolence to the CDC.
I see these statements of condolence from key members of the opposition as a mark of political maturity from the perspective of unity in diversity.
Besides, Cllr. Gongloe is quoted by Smart News Liberia- an online media entity as describing the passage of the Kamara Abdullah Kamara Act of Press Freedom as an achievement of President Weah’s administration. In my opinion, the renowned human rights lawyer’s observation demonstrates honesty in politics, especially as one of President Weah’s fierce critics. The Act is aimed at promoting free speech, expression, independence and safety of the Liberian Press and also repeals chapter 11.11 of the Liberian Code Revised, Penal Law of 1978 on criminal libel against the president, 11.12 on sedition and 11.14 on criminal malevolence.
In politics, there are those who believe that the little good done by one’s political opponent should always be buried or disputed. But I think the well-respected human rights lawyer was fair enough to have recognized such as a plus for the CDC-led Government.
Before concluding Part 1 of this opinion, I wish to hail the Liberia National Police (LNP) for assigning security to the presidential candidates. All of these positive steps are an indication that we are one people, the electoral process will come and pass but we will continue to intermingle.
About the author:
Jacob Parley is a Liberian media professional, with over twenty five years of extensive practice, both print and electronic. He is a Former Vice President of the Press Union of Liberia, Former News Director; Editor-in-Chief, Executive Mansion Correspondent, etc. (Liberia Broadcasting System). He earned a Post Graduate Diploma in Modern Development Diplomacy from the Gabriel L. Dennis Foreign Service Institute, carries over ten journalism certificates, two of which were earned from the People’s Republic of China, etc. He’s reachable through: email@example.comfirstname.lastname@example.org.Contacts: +231 777604576/886560455. WhatsApp: +231881336137