AU, ECOWAS, UNMIL Urge for Peaceful Campaigns

SRSG Farid Zarif

As political parties and candidates for the October 10 presidential and legislative elections are about to enter the official electoral campaign period, from July 31 to October 8, 2017, the African Union Liaison Office in Liberia (AU), the Office of the Special Representative of the President of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) have collectively called upon all stakeholders to spare no effort to ensure peaceful elections in Liberia.

In a joint statement issued over the weekend, they said these elections, and the subsequent transition, will mark a significant milestone whereby a sitting president will hand over power to an elected one.

“As Liberians enter into the final phase of this historical process, we remind political parties of their obligations to peaceful campaigning in compliance with the country’s electoral laws, international standards and the landmark Farmington River Declaration that parties signed on June 4, 2017,” the statement said.

During the past 14 years of uninterrupted peace, Liberians have demonstrated their determination to reconstruct and move forward together in their diversity and to build a prosperous and democratic society. The 2017 elections represent an opportunity for all Liberians – government officials, political parties, religious and traditional leaders, civil society, the media, and citizens from all walks of life – to reaffirm their love for country and their commitment to fair play and moderation in the interest of the common good, they stated.

They added: “We encourage all Liberians to support national authorities, including the National Elections Commission, the Liberia National Police and the Judiciary, in carrying out their responsibilities for conducting the elections, providing security and handling any electoral dispute in accordance with the law and relevant regulations. We call on the NEC, security agencies and other relevant stakeholders to continue to uphold the electoral laws and create an enabling environment for all political parties and candidates to guarantee free, fair and peaceful elections.

“We further call on Liberians to make their choices in the upcoming elections on the basis of ideas and platforms, in the best interest of society. Such choices should be devoid of negative tendencies including personal attacks and provocative statements that can incite violence.

“To this end, the AU, ECOWAS and UNMIL are following these developments closely, as we urge all stakeholders to encourage their supporters to avoid the use of inflammatory language and exercise restraint in words and deeds.

“Finally, we call on the political parties and actors to prioritize national interest, participate actively in the electoral process and, where necessary, utilize available legal means and options in seeking redress for any electoral grievances,” they stated, and wished Liberia a successful elections.