Liberia: ‘Shun Violence, Embrace Peace’


— FLY president Urges Liberian youths to get registered 

By Claudius T. Greene Jr.

The president of the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY), Banica Stephenie Elliot, has called on young people across the country to shun violence and embrace peace as the country enters a very crucial moment in its history.

She urged the youths, who made up more than half of the national population, should begin to prepare themselves for the task of deciding who leads the country as the October 10, 2023 presidential and legislative elections approach.

Elliot told scores of young people, many of whom are at-risk, over the weekend that violence should never be an option as the country enters into a crucial electioneering period, adding that “we must do all we can do away with violence, and let peace be the order of the day.”

“Violence has never helped us and will never do. So in all that we do, let's put peace first,” she said at a FLY organized event for victims of substance abuse, formally known as at-risk youth at the historic Providence Island in Monrovia.

The event was held under the theme: “Interface With At- Risk Youth.”

“We should ensure that peace reigns at every level of the electoral process. Let us be that example that the elderly people want to see,” she said.

However, the FLY president’s message of peace comes in the wake of acts of lawlessness and violence being perpetrated by young people in Montserrado County district #10 reportedly.

The violence, which ran for four successive days, led to marketeers’ bags being snatched, money and other valuables stolen, and goods destroyed. They have known no peace since the voter registration exercise began last Monday, and the police were not able to contain the violence that engulfed the area.

However, Elliot and her team have been traversing communities in Monrovia and elsewhere, preaching the message of peace and encouraging the young people to turnout and register in order to have their voter cards for the October 10 polls.

She said that she would love to see the youth fully involved in the electoral process and at all levels — from registration to voter education, campaign and voting.

“We want to have conversations with every young person in this country, from vulnerable youths to youths in agriculture, the ones who have dropped out of school and just everyone,” she said. “We want to ensure that this place is safe and peaceful for the holding of the elections.”

“When they speak of violence in the country, most people will say that young people are seen as perpetrators,” she said. “So we think among us the young people, the youth who are at risk are the most vulnerable when it comes to being used to perpetrate violence.”

Fly expressed excitement that the federation knows people who have relationships with the people in the different ghettos across the country.

“So we were able to leverage that network to have this engagement with them, so through our own network we were able to reach out to the different ghettos. And you know election period everybody wants to be involved.”

The at-risk youth were already sounding that they are interested in the initiative, and they were just waiting for somebody to reach out to them, it seems.

“So the fact that it is young people reaching out to young people, I think is something they are excited about,”She said.

FLY hopes to have a very huge gathering of at-risk youth from the twenty- five ghettos across the entire country, where they will sit with them and tell them the importance of maintaining peace.

“We really care about peace, it is fragile. The fact that these groups of young people are at the point where they can be easily convinced to perpetrate violence; there is a need to provide guidance. So the overall goal is to have a peaceful Liberia before and during election and after election. This is why we say we want to have a conversation with them”. She added.

The FLY team was also recently in Grand Cape Mount County where they had conversation with first time voters, providing them with a few tips that would guide them during the electoral period.

“We think it is important for them to be a part of this voter registration and the entire electoral process. They are a very important segment of the voting population. And being their first time there is this anxiety that comes with that, so they need to be guided,” Elliot said.