The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) has called on the National Elections Commission (NEC) to take steps that would ensure that some of the lapses that evolved out of the October 10 general and presidential elections are not repeated in the November 7 run-off.
In a press release issued by secretary-general Charles Crawford and approved by president Moses D. Sandy, the ALJA said it is alarmed by the numerous complaints of alleged electoral irregularities and the number of invalid votes that engulfed the first round of the presidential and legislative elections.
The association called on the NEC and political parties to ensure that election workers are properly trained for the smooth execution of the runoff presidential election.
ALJA also urged the Commission to ensure that voters are fully educated about the location of polling centers and how to cast their ballots.
The Liberian media advocacy group, based in the United States, urged political parties alleging electoral irregularities in the first round of the presidential and legislative elections to fully exhaust the election guidelines and the legal process to resolve their grievances without any acts of violence.
The association also cautioned supporters and sympathizers of political parties to refrain from all forms of violence as the legal process takes its course.
ALJA called on the NEC to move expeditiously in resolving the complaints filed by the various political parties and stressed the need for the Commission to be transparent and accountable in adjudicating the various parties’ complaints.
Meanwhile, the ALJA has condemned the recent arson attack on the home of broadcast journalist Smith Toby, who is the station manager of the Monrovia based OK FM. According to reports, the incident was perpetrated by unknown men on Wednesday, October 18 on the Robertsfield Highway.
Smith and his family survived the fire with barely any damage to property.
ALJA sees the attack on Toby’s residence as counterproductive to press freedom and the peace and stability in Liberia during this critical period of electioneering.
The association has called on law enforcement agencies to vigorously pursue the perpetrators of this heinous crime and bring them to justice.
In a related development, ALJA said its attention has also been drawn to alleged reports of intimidation and harassment of journalists and media institutions in the performance of their reportorial duties by some unscrupulous individuals in the Liberian society. ALJA, however, did not specifically point to any act or incident during which a journalist was recently allegedly harassed.
The association said the reports are troubling and have the propensity to rupture the peace and tranquility the country has enjoyed for the past 12 years.
In the wake of these horrifying reports, ALJA has called on the Liberian government and heads of political parties to ensure that journalists and media institutions are protected especially in the performance of their professional duties.