By Gwendolyn S. Myers, Founder and Executive Director, Messengers of Peace-Liberia, Inc.
The much delayed Presidential run-off election took place Tuesday, 26 December 2017 on Boxing Day, when potential voters were to be home celebrating the Christmas holidays. This is a Boxing Day with a difference and one that would be remembered for a long time. It was a day that registered voters in Liberia went to the polls following a tempestuous political interlude to elect their next President.
Volunteer peace messengers, schooled in the belief that there is plenty of room for young people to grow and expand, were among the first group of eligible voters to form a line. We were at the polling stations as early as 6 a.m. Voting early provided us with the opportunity to host a Special Feature-Live Broadcast with Messengers of Peace-Liberia’s 25 Youth Mediators in training from all the 15 counties and other young voters to gauge opinions on the task ahead at the ECOWAS Headquarters in Monrovia, Liberia.
Given the events of the past months following the October 2017 general elections on elections irregularities, frauds and counter claims; it is by sheer resilience and good nature of our young people that Liberia survived. We remain grateful for the amount of interventions put in place by international donor community and the Government of Liberia to ensure violent free elections. We have begun to see the low hanging fruits from “The Enhancing Youth Participation Project in the 2017 electoral process” supported by UNDP through the UN Peace Building Fund.
As the country awaits the outcome of the run-off election result and as we prepare for a democratic transition programme, we should not lose the sense of community. In our own opinion, there are no winners and no losers. Liberians voted for peace and peace we must sustain by accepting the outcome of the results and welcome in the new administrators who would steer the ship of state for the next six years.
This is the time to look beyond our political differences and forge ahead to the renewal of Liberia. We should at all costs avoid protracted political crisis and make our contributions to good governance.
We take this opportunity to call on the next government to include young people to assist with redefining the goals and re-engineering the strategies that would be required to make lasting commitments to righting the wrongs of past governments.
Messengers of Peace (MOP)-Liberia as a lead advocate for peace consolidation would like to reiterate five areas of priorities for a smooth and seamless election transition. These big five areas include the need to address:
- High levels of corruption that have been complicated by human rights abuses, lack of transparency and accountability, mismanagement of natural resources and poor governance
- Increase and invest in social human security to address issues of poverty and inadequate distribution of resources, infrastructure and food security
- Consolidate peace and security through the meaningful involvement and active participation of young people.
- Universal Health Care programme for all Liberians
- Early Childhood Education programme to raise the standard of current education programme
The next Government will be racing against time and our emphasis should not focus on winners or losers. We all voted for peace and should focus on a smooth transition of power from one democratically elected leader to another. This, to us, is history and we should congratulate ourselves for making history.
Until next year, when we hope to continue with our column on dialogue among peace messengers, let me take this opportunity to wish all our readers, mentors, sponsors, supporters and friends, a happy, peaceful and prosperous 2018. Let peace be at the heart of everything that we do in the years ahead. Peace first, peace above all else and may peace continue to prevail.