As campaigns kicked off yesterday, the Liberia National Police (LNP) admonished all political parties and independent candidates to respect rule of law as they carry out their activities during and after the campaign period.
Addressing journalists and political parties’ representatives yesterday at the LNP headquarters in Monrovia, Inspector General Gregory Coleman said it is the wish of the police that activities in the ensuing elections are peaceful.
“Fellow citizens and well wishers, as we all share the common interest of our country, let me inform you on behalf of all gallant men and women in the LNP that maintaining and sustaining peace is what we desire and work for. We are available to serve all of you irrespective of your political orientations or doctrines,” Col. Coleman said.
He disclosed that three police officers each are already assigned to every political headquarters and will monitor and advise the parties on all elections security matters.
“Our office is responsible for the stipend and all other benefits for the officers assigned to you. All you need to do is to cooperate and do what is right at all times so as to avoid electoral violence,” he admonished. The LNP IG said the police will not be a partisan force in these elections. “All officers who have expressed desire to run for any elective office are no longer active at jobs in our constitutional jurisdiction. They have been given a six months compulsory sabbatical while involved in politics but can return to work after the process should they wish to,” he noted.
Concerning the use of force where necessary, the IG said police being moderate in the activities of the ensuing elections should not be misunderstood and mistaken for inability to maintain law and order. “In any case where force will be used against any of our citizens we will respond proportionately. I mean in a lay man sense that if you throw stones we will throw stones back at you and if you use firearms we too will use firearms,” Coleman said.
The police boss also warned all political parties to make sure that their militant groups who chant their battle cries should not wear police or military related uniforms. “We will not condone civilians wearing security related uniforms in these days of elections when we have to double up our efforts to ensure that there is sanity everywhere in the range of our 43,000 square miles. Be warned and obey this because we will not compromise any attempt to cause chaos through the use of such materials,” he said.
Coleman said the 10 p. m. curfew for all motorcycles remains in force and called on all political parties and independent candidates who have brought in motorcycles for their campaigns to observe it. “We still maintain our stance on motorcycles plying areas we have restricted. No one should violate this order,” he said, adding that in case there is need to allow anyone or a group to use bikes in those restricted areas, police will have to coordinate the mobility of such motorcycles.
He asked all to stop tearing down other parties or candidates’ election materials. This election is the first time that police are providing equal access to all political parties.
Also making remaking remarks, Access to Information program lead person of Carter Center, Mr. Thomas Nah, said his organization wants all political parties and the security sector to disseminate the right information to the public in order to not cause any panic. “The Carter is and will remain supportive of your efforts to sustain the peace in this country,” Mr. Nah said.
The political parties present at the interactive press briefing were Liberty Party (LP), Liberia Restoration Party (LRP), True Whig Party (TWP), Alternative National Congress (ANC), Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE), All Liberian Party (ALP), among others.