I want to talk briefly about the importance of the upcoming elections and why you should all exercise your right to vote freely and peacefully. The United States, as a long-standing partner of Liberia, takes these elections seriously. We are committed to helping make them free, fair, and peaceful. That is why, as you are all aware, our Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently announced that we will impose visa restrictions on anyone who undermines Liberia’s democratic process. United States visa restrictions are but one tool that can be used to help hold accountable anyone who might want to disrupt YOUR elections.
But YOU, the Liberian people, the voters of this country, have the two most powerful tools in this electoral process: your voice and your vote.
First, use your voice. Talk to your friends and family about the future of your beloved Liberia. Think about where you want to be 6, 12, and 20 years from now. Listen with an open mind to the various candidates and what they have to say. Vote for those who have the best plans for your family’s future and the capability to lead Liberia toward that future.
Democracy can be messy, and candidates should compete for your vote. That is the way it is supposed to be. However, in every society, there are always a few people who use elections to start rumors, spread misinformation, or engage in even worse things like hate speech and violent rhetoric.
The recent tragic loss of lives in Lofa shows us that terrible things can happen when people turn to violence. That is why we must always condemn violence. The best way to do that is by NOT amplifying hateful messages, NOT retweeting, reposting, or publishing on social media and other platforms what the perpetrators of violence say or do. Above all, reject calls for violence and remember that the best way to resolve your differences is peacefully through the ballot box.
And second, I urge all of you to exercise the most valuable power that any democracy offers its people — your right to vote. Your vote is your ticket to the future you want for yourself and your family. Don’t squander that very important right by not voting. Go vote and make your voice heard through the ballot box.
Like you, the United States looks to the National Elections Commission as the electoral authority and for the official results of the elections. It is important that people get their information from official sources.
As your oldest and one of your closest international partners, we wish Liberia and all its citizens free, fair, and peaceful elections.