President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has denounced the spate of abuses that has been posted on social media by Liberians during the recent elections , suggesting that the country’s democracy is at stake if it continues.
The President’s statement came yesterday, less than two hours after Jerome Korkoya, chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), declared campaign open for the runoff between George Weah of the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and Vice President Joseph N. Boakai of the governing Unity Party (UP).
The runoff, Korkoya said, will be held on November 7, since none of the 20 political parties that participated in the October 10 presidential elections obtained the 50 percent plus one of the total votes cast as required by the Liberian Constitution.
However, President Sirleaf said she has observed that a week following the end of the first round of voting on October 10, her attention was drawn to a surge of abuses displayed on social media (mostly on Facebook) by Liberians, which she said are extremely inimical to the survival of the country’s peace and democracy.
“We condemn the abuse and misuse of social media through the use of invectives, hate speech and outright vulgarity, which denigrates adversaries with whom we might hold disagreement,” the President said.
She said that in light of the progress her government has made, “I call on our fellow citizens to remain civil, responsible and continue to be tolerant of diverging opinions and views that might not necessarily be favorable to ours.”
She said further that resorting to profanities on social media contributes nothing to the national discourse, “but only serves to taint our national and international image.
“We must all express our indignation to this unacceptable way of politicking and seek to continue the decent democratic values that have brought us this far as a nation and people,” the President said.
As Liberians pat themselves on the back for peacefully voting in the October 10 polls, all must continue to demonstrate the same path of love for country by and through each of their individual actions, she said.
The President also admonished that all Liberians should focus on how they will consolidate the democratic gains made over the last 12 years by voting peacefully and nationalistically, respecting the law and keeping the peace for the greater good of Mama Liberia.