The Liberia Elections Observation Network (LEON) has called on politicians, supporters of political parties and every Liberian to proceed in a civil, peaceful and nonviolent manner ahead of Liberia’s historic 2017 elections in October, a press statement said yesterday.
The statement, signed by Amos Williams, LEON’s national secretariat’s reporting officer, said it considers the October 10 electoral elections as the confirmation of the strength of Liberia’s democracy. It said the campaign, which opened at midnight on July 31 across all 73 electoral districts, has started in most urban areas and is yet to reach rural communities, sometimes due to poor road conditions delaying delivery of materials, with Lofa, River Cess, and parts of Nimba counties being adversely affected.
The statement said LEON has observed the indiscriminate tearing down of candidates’ flyers overnight and “Supporters of all the main political parties are equally engaged in this.” “Flyers are being placed indiscriminately on government buildings, schools, churches and NGO buildings without permission and contrary to good practice. Some of these institutions, such as Monrovia City Hall, Zanasue Town Hall in Bong District 6, and the University of Liberia, have had to undertake the removal of these flyers,” it said. LEON also observed that political parties put up flyers on private properties without permission. “For instance, in Grand Bassa, Liberty Party put up flyers on CDC property causing CDC to retaliate and placed flyers on the LP office.” It also said a few political parties have exchanged messages through social media, radio talk shows and television stations that have the potential to incite tensions and division between different ethnicities. “Threats of violence or actual violence particularly are from private security guards hired by candidates,” LEON said.
LEON believes that these trends are not only anti-peace but may undermine “our young democracy, and could create violence if not discouraged. We are cautioning politicians and partisans from every party to adhere to the election laws of Liberia and encourage their partisans to campaign peacefully without using incitements to violence or hate messages. The parties voluntarily signed the Ganta Declaration out of the wish to uphold the peace of the country. These commitments may be tested throughout the campaign but LEON urges parties to ignore small provocations and seek dialogue to resolve issues,” it said.
Additionally, the statement said “It is important for supporters of political parties to seek permission before posting their flyers/posters on private structures. Any posting of flyers on private property without permission could trigger forcible removal or violence. It is the hope of LEON that peace and nonviolence remain at the core of this campaign and even up to the election on October 10.”
LEON called on the NEC and the Supreme Court to finalize hearings and adjudications of all complaints, objections, and appeals concerning candidate nominations. “We are calling on the NEC to enforce every provision of Liberia’s electoral laws and ensure a free, fair and transparent election and to maintain public confidence in an impartial process. LEON welcomes the fact the LNP has assigned three liaison officers to every political party contesting the elections and hopes that this will help in mitigating potential clashes between different supporters and further assist in upholding the rule of law.”
LEON is a platform of four Liberian Civil Society Organizations: the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, Liberia Crusaders for Peace, Federation of Liberia Youth and National Union of Organizations for the Disabled, with the goal to contribute to the democratization of Liberia by providing an avenue for civil society to participate in monitoring and observing the 2017 Presidential and Legislative elections. LEON has 133 observers stationed around the country, since June, observing all aspects of the electoral process, the statement said.