Guest Editorial by Edwin F. Kruah
As the 2023 election activities unfold, contesting candidates and ordinary citizens, as well as the international community, have continued to plead for KEEPING THE PEACE. This clarion call continues to echo and vibrate through the length and breadth of Liberia. But the big question is: how do we keep the peace that we are all yearning for under the prevailing circumstances?
To most Liberians, Peace appears to be an abstract phenomenon or something that happens by chance. Some even think that peace is a condition of quietude. However, according to the Webster New College Dictionary, “Peace is the normal freedom from commotion, civil strife, and violence of a community, public order and security; it is a state of mutual harmony between people and groups, especially in personal relations.”
Against this background, how do we keep the peace in our country (Liberia)? My personal view and answer to this question is: Keeping the peace will largely depend on our attitudes and behaviors in relating to each other as individuals and as citizens. Peace is not abstract, but a demonstrated action that reflects respect, tolerance, love, discipline, intelligence, and the ability to act in a rational manner, under the most testing conditions and circumstances.
Keeping the peace is therefore a binding responsibility of each and every citizen in Liberia, especially at this critical juncture of the pending October 10, 2023 Elections – a crossroad in the history of our country. Our attitudes, behaviors and deportments serve as critical factors in keeping, maintaining, and fostering the peace in our country; or the factors that will diminish and destroy the peace.
Recent developments at the start of the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections Campaign, beginning with the totting of casket displaying posters with photo of Unity Party’s Standard Bearer, Joseph Nyumah Boakai, by supporters of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), and the subsequent clash at the intersection of Tubman Boulevard and Airfield (Vamoma House) between supporters of CDC and the Unity Party, followed by other violent acts across the country, indicate a bad omen and signs of a looming threat to our fragile peace. While it is understandable that this year’s elections are characterized by high enthusiasm, anxiety, and sentiments, given what is at stake, relative to the future of our country, there is a need for sobriety, caution and tolerance.
While the competitive nature of the ensuing elections is healthy for the promotion of our fledgling democracy, let us not fall prey to the temptation of engaging in ghetto politics, which is inimical to the fostering of peace and unity in our country.
Let us be reminded that politics is characterized by a clash of ideas and not personality and, thus, should be divorced of parochial ethnic bigotry and venomous attacks against an individual’s reputation. It will serve us well to learn from the type of mature election politics demonstrated by our West African Neighbors like Ghana and Nigeria, which have had peaceful transitions of power. Let us avoid insinuations and charades that tend to divide us as a people and, instead, exercise a high degree of civility in our discourse. The idea of maliciously destroying the character of people in order to win an election is unacceptable and counter-productive to peace, harmony and a wholesome functioning society.
Let us focus on the issues that matter to the people of Liberia and the survival of our nation. The critical issues are our economy, health, education, and the promotion of good governance. The Liberian People deserve an unequivocal, decisive, coherent, and no-nonsense platform that seeks to address these problems. The cancer of corruption which has eaten deep into the fabric and conscience of our nation, giving rise to deprivation and poverty among our people, should be the focus of our debates; not acrimonious, baseless, and frivolous arguments and attacks.
The Sacrifices Made
Let us all be cognizant of the enormous sacrifices made, both in human lives and infrastructure, to give us the relative peace that we are all enjoying today. We must be reminded that the peace we enjoy today did not come on a silver platter, but at the expense of so many precious lives including our citizens and that of our African Brothers (The ECOMOG Forces) who gallantly fought to restore sanity, peace and democracy to our country.
Involvement of the International Community
Given recent incidents of violence and the fear of possible instability, owing to the prevailing tensions ahead of the elections, some Liberians are opting for the direct supervision by the international community, especially the United Nations, of the elections on October 10, 2023. However, while I appreciate their concern under the circumstances, I am of the view that the international community should play only observatory and monitoring role, because this year’s Presidential and Legislative Elections are a litmus test of our capability to conduct the affairs of our nation, without having the international community to always baby-sit us. At one hundred-seventy six (176) years of independence, one would expect us, as a nation, to provide guidance and expertise to the international community on the issues of election, peace and harmony.
The role of the Elections Commission
There is no doubt that the center of gravity in ensuring the maintenance of peace in these elections is the National Elections Commission (NEC) of Liberia. The role of the National Elections Commission to conduct a free, fair, transparent, and credible election will, to a large degree, mitigate any potential crisis and violence, during and after these elections. Let it be said for once that we (Liberians) are mature and capable of directing the affairs of our nation, without direct outside assistance and tutoring.
About the Author:
Edwin F. Kruah is a prolific writer and commentator who has written several articles dealing with the socio-economic and political issues of Liberia. Some of these include: Liberia on a New Historical Page (1980); Firestone’s Act ofIntransigence against Liberian Workers (1981); Student Politics and NationalConsciousness (1983); White Citizenship in Liberia: Its Social, Economic andPolitical Implications (1985); Which , G. Baccus Matthews? – ACommentary (1986); Liberia: Laying the Foundation of democracy, GoodGovernance, Accountability and Public Trust – The Challenges of the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf”s Presidency (2006), etc. He can be contacted at: email@example.com or +231-777-23-6441; +231-880-93-4669