By Gwendolyn S. Myers/Founder &Executive Director, Messengers of Peace-Liberia Inc (MOP)
Now that the frenzies of the Presidential and general elections campaigns are over and the electorates have cast their votes in a peaceful and calm manner, it is time to reflect on the process, address the glitches and wait in anticipation as the official results are announced beginning this week. We must ensure, there are no post elections conflicts.
Exit polls from every indication portray possible runoff elections next month and before then, we would commence the sensitization campaign process all over again, but this time with just two presidential candidates. This is a sensitive period for which we need calm and for young people to play a major role to ensure violence free election outcomes.
Increasingly the role of young people and especially young women in conflict and mediation is gaining recognition in the areas of advocacy, research, training, monitoring and reporting.
At Messengers of Peace (MOP)-Liberia, we started another innovative programme called Elections Dialogue Room and Youth Call Center where over fifty (50) Young Peace Messengers including youth groups can connect digitally with MOP and dialogue about the elections. NAYMOTE is supporting and working really hard with Messengers of Peace-Liberia on conflict management and mediation. This mitigation strategy is reaching large number of young people and it is having a ripple effect.
Presently, MOP-Liberia is also involved in the training of 30 other young people, from the 15 counties of Liberia, in Mediation and Dialogue. Our other advocacy programmes made possible through funding support from UNDP & UN Peacebuilding Fund ‘Enhanced Youth Participation Programme would continue with the mobilization of young people to participate in the possible November 2017 run-off Presidential elections.
We recognize the greater role for young people, particularly young women to ensure mainstreaming of mediation and dialogue into development and gender issues. So far, we are very proud of the generation of young Liberians who daily want the best for the country and are contributing to the dialogue for strong leadership.
For the role of young women in mediation and conflict to succeed and be recognized, trust, integrity and dignity are key. If not, it is all deception.
As young people, we need to stand firm on our pledge for peaceful elections and on our theme “Vote Peace”. We need to rehabilitate Liberia and build a country that works for everyone.
There is an urgent need to put back Liberia where it ought to be and where our founding fathers designed it to be. This is definitely not the time to worry but a time to dialogue and engage our potential leaders on the need to accept elections results and to seek redress through appropriate channels and mechanisms when dispute(s) arise.
Until then, when we begin a new series on ‘Mediation and Dialogue-Part II’, we reiterate our call for a peaceful transfer of power from one democratically elected President to another and from one legislator to another. As we await the results of the elections, let peace be your watch phrase. Peace first, Peace above all else and May Peace prevail in our time. #Votepeace; #Peace my democratic choice.