Local, Regional Women’s Groups Condemn District #15 Violence

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Express worry over enmity in Liberia

The leadership of the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL) says it is deeply concerned about the deepening crisis among citizens, which the association said are nowadays giving rise to a deteriorating unstable ease in the country.

The latest of which was the eruption of violence in Logan Town, Montserrado County between rivals of the just ended District #15 elections on Saturday, August 17, 2019.

“This emerging trend of election-related violence is very worrisome as it has the propensity to derail our hard-earned peace,” AFELL said in a release.

The statement added, “The incident in Logan Town, which led to personal injuries and property damage is regrettable. AFELL accordingly, condemns in the strongest terms, this wanton and unruly behavior of some citizens. Of particular concern is the impact these kinds of violence have on the mental, economic and social well-being of women and children.”

“Therefore, we demand from authorities at the Ministry of Justice to launch an urgent and prompt investigation into the causes of the violence, and also call on the authorities of the National Elections Commission (NEC) to intervene in this matter by conducting an investigation, and hold those actors/parties accountable under the elections law. We say this because electoral violence is one of the greatest obstacles to democratic consolidation. It does not only affect the credibility of the electoral system, but also destroys the democratic system, and the rule of law,” the organization further added.

The group reminded Liberians that elections are about the competitions of ideas, and not a show of force. AFELL, therefore, calls upon all those concerned to exercise restraint, and allow the electoral process, as well as the rule of law to run its course.

“We are always reminded of our immediate past, and as a post conflict country, Liberia should avoid the looming triggers of conflict such as electoral violence. Finally, without being prejudicial, AFELL strongly condemns and will not tolerate any acts of violence, harassment and intimidation of any female candidate in elections now or hereafter. We call on all parties to exhibit a greater sense of maturity, respect and tolerance towards each other and we intend to remain seized of this matter to its finality,” the release said.

Meanwhile, another women’s group, known as the Network of Peace and Security Women in ECOWAS Countries (NOPSWECO) have added their voice to the sweeping condemnations of the Montserrado County District #15 electoral violence.

NOPSWECO is a conglomeration of West African women organizations including Young Women Christian Association (YWCA), Organization for Women and Children (ORWOCH); Kids Educational Engagement Project (KEEP); Community Healthcare Initiative (CHI); Girls for Change (GFC); Quidiyou INC.; Paramount Young Women Initiative (PAYOWI); and Women & Children Initiative INC. (WACEP).

“We are disheartened by the escalation of violence leading to the attack on one of the candidates in the District 15 rerun elections. We condemn in the strongest terms the attack on Ms. Telia Urey and the occupants of the black vehicle,” the group of women organizations said. “A video obtained from the scene of the attack shows riot police standing by whilst rioters violently attacked a black vehicle, allegedly belonging to Ms. Telia Urey, and putting the occupants of the vehicle at risk.

NOPSWECO recalls that, following a ruling in the District #15 electoral dispute by the NEC, the Chairman of the CDC stated in a major press conference that the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) will not participate in any rerun.

“We call on the leaders of the ruling CDC and the opposition collaborating parties to take advantage of the law and the appeal process to express any dissatisfaction in the electoral process.

“We once again call on those in positions of power to refrain from making statements that have the potential to incite chaos. We additionally call on the Liberia National Police and the Ministry of Justice to investigate the police officers who stood idly by while this assault took place. We request a full investigation into yesterday‘s incident and the report made public.

“We wish to remind our President that 2020 is just around the corner and it is these types of gender-based violence that limit women’s full participation in the governance of their country. We continue to watch with concern as the peaceful situation deteriorates and will hold all involved accountable. Notwithstanding, the purpose of this communication is to prevent further violence– particularly violence against a women politicians.

NOPSWECO also called on the Weah administration “to provide increased security presence in District #15 in the days immediately preceding NEC’s recently mandated rerun. The six precincts that fall under this mandate should be the focus of this increased security presence, the group suggests.

“In addition, this increased presence should cover the days immediately following the rerun until the day after NEC announces a winner. All security personnel assigned to this detail must be professional in the execution of their duties. They must be seasoned, disciplined and impartial security professionals who take their mandate seriously.

“We call on the President to ensure the safety of Ms. Urey in light of this recent provocation. We call on the President to restrain all duty bearers from making inciting comments, posting on Facebook, moderating radio shows that have the propensity to derail the peace. Liberia is all we have and democracy is strong when women and men participate together in an environment free of violence, threats of violence, fear, and intimidation,” NOPSWECO said.

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