Wants Liberians’ ‘true will’ to be respected
The opposition All Liberian Party (ALP) says for relative peace which has been in the country for the last 12 years to be sustained, the “true will” of the Liberian people must be respected.
The ALP, led by Liberian businessman Benoni Urey, said respecting the will of the Liberian people must be reflected in the outcome of the October 10 Presidential and Representative elections.
ALP has therefore called on the government and all the contesting parties to sign a joint statement pledging to uphold free, fair and transparent elections. This is in addition to the Farmington Declaration signed early last month by major political actors in the presence of ECOWAS leaders during a regional summit here. The declaration called for violence-free elections.
In a statement released last week outlining six key pledges which, the party believes – if all parties are signatories to – shall result in an election outcome that will reflect the true will of the people.
The ALP’s call comes amid growing concern among the electorate of the government’s sincerity in delivering an open election. Electoral registration irregularities and ambiguity in the National Election Commission’s announcements are causing widespread unease among the public.
It is against this backdrop that the ALP said it wants political actors, including the government, to commit to a document which it believes can help to remedy perceived worries.
“In just over three months, Liberians will cast their votes for their next President. We, the parties of Liberia and civil society groups, must sign a statement pledging to uphold a free, fair and transparent elections,” the ALP said in a statement.
Liberians deserve this assurance, the party said, and “they must know that they can vote for their candidate of choice, free from fear; that the votes counted shall correlate to the true will of the people; and that each citizen’s vote – regardless of their region, ethnicity or political affiliation – will have equal value.”
Liberians are wary over external influences in the electoral process—many believing that the winners are decided ahead of the elections.
The ALP noted that it is imperative that Liberians can freely exercise their right, as guaranteed by the Liberian Constitution, to vote come October, “but they must know their vote will matter.”
ALP continued: “While we all acknowledge the importance of the Farmington River Declaration for a Peaceful 2017 Election, countless examples around the world demonstrate a peaceful election is no guarantee of a fair one.”
Therefore, the party noted, “We – the parties of Liberia and civil society groups call on all signatories to the Farmington River Declaration, to collectively commit themselves to the implementation of the document.”
Another issue that is garnering uneasiness among Liberians is the unwillingness of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to replace NEC Chairman Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, though he seems to be in clear violation of the constitution. President Sirleaf’s deliberate silence on the issue has made many to believe that there is a hidden agenda with Korkoya’s presence as head of the NEC, many Liberians have said.
Following the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, the ALP and its collaborating partners said no substantial modification shall be made to the electoral laws in the last six months before the elections, except with the consent of a majority of political actors.”
One issue that has generated immense debate is the Code of Conduct, which majority of the political parties is not willing to compromise.
“We – the parties of Liberia and civil society groups – officially pledge to strictly abide by the Liberian Constitution and the electoral law,” the release said.
The party also wants ECOWAS, EU and the AU to provide thorough and independent analyses of the electoral process.
In total transparency with political parties, the ALP wants NEC to ensure that every eligible Liberian who has registered to vote is listed on the official voter registrar.
“The names of all those who have gone through the registration process must appear on the electoral roll. Photographic identification of every registered voter is displayed on the electoral roll. These listings must be accurate and open to public examination prior to polling, and must be provided to all political parties,” the party said.
“We want the NEC to act independently and have the means to do so and we want all to respect the true will of the Liberian electorate.
“We, as political actors, declare to uphold each and all of these commitments; for each is integral to the others. Compromise one, and all are compromised.
“It is our duty to ensure each eligible Liberian can vote freely and ballot counting will be transparent. The only thing that shall remain unconditionally opaque is voters’ identities at the count.
“We encourage all parties to join us in giving this guarantee to the people of Liberia. The onus now lies with the government and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to sign,” the ALP political leader, Urey, was quoted in the release.
He said the Farmington Declaration, which calls for non-violent elections must be fully implemented, but this is not enough.
“Peaceful elections do not necessarily ensure a free and fair one. While we welcome the sentiment, we believe our electorate needs a stronger assurance from their politicians. The modest pledges contained in the statement released today are ones that any party that calls themselves democratic should endorse,” he said.