— International Community hails the country’s electoral progress, but…
The International Community has lauded Liberia’s efforts toward the conduct of its upcoming October 10 polls, marking a historic moment for the country.
In a statement, the group added that the October polls serve as a pivotal moment for Liberia to safeguard “its peace and democracy and serve as an inspiration for Africa and the rest of the world.”
“The International Community in Liberia commends the Liberian-led and Liberian-owned electoral process,” the statement noted.
The upcoming elections, which is the fourth in the country’s postwar history are the first to be organized and administered in the absence of the United Nations mission force, which finally left the country in 2018.
Being aware of the possibility for political campaign rhetoric to spark physical violence, the international community found a way to ensure that future Liberian elections would be conducted peacefully–conceived the Farmington River Declaration, the country’s first peace accord, which saw political parties and leaders commit to violence-free elections.
The International Community has, however, expressed deep concern about the recent “reports of election violence”, calling on the government to “investigate and hold those responsible to account.”
“As Liberia commemorates 20 years of unbroken peace, the International Community in Liberia calls on the signatories of the Farmington River Declaration 2023 to abide by their commitment and promote the conditions for peaceful, transparent, and credible elections, prior, during, and after elections.
“We, therefore, urge political leaders to be active peace messengers and promote issue-based campaigns and refrain from incitement of followers toward violent action, especially violence against women in elections and politics and, to resolve any grievance through established legal mechanisms. We further caution against the instrumentalization of the youth,” the statement said.
The concerns come as the second Farmington Accord has been violated by supporters of President George Weah and his main rival, former Vice President Joseph Boakai. Supporters of both men, just weeks ago engaged in a violent clash, which led to scores of supporters being injured.
The violence came just after the President's supporters made history by becoming the first to violate the accord when they paraded the streets with a casket plastered with pictures of Boakai–a move considered by many as an act of provocation. Since then, violent rhetoric has flared between the two parties, amplified by high-ranking officials from both sides.
“We bring attention to inflammatory rhetoric which has the potential to instigate violence,” the International Community added. “We, therefore, urge political leaders to be active peace messengers and promote issue-based campaigns and refrain from incitement of followers toward violent action, especially violence against women in elections and politics and, to resolve any grievance through established legal mechanisms.”
Meanwhile, the National Elections Commission has been lauded by the International Community for the conduct of generally well-administered and transparent biometric voter registration, even though the process was marred by serious technical glitches that had left many Liberians frustrated.
The electoral body has also been lauded for the conduct of the candidate nomination process and for its continuing efforts to demonstrate its independence and impartiality, which, the International Community believes, “is crucial for public confidence in the institution and the electoral process.”
“The International Community in Liberia reaffirms its unwavering support to the Government and people of Liberia in their efforts to consolidate peace and inclusive democracy,” the group said.