The National Election Commission (NEC) has called on media institutions in the country to be factual and nonpartisan in the 2017 legislative and presidential elections.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a two-day inter–party consultative workshop in Ganta recently, the co-chairman of NEC, Cllr. Sarah M. Toe, said the media has a great responsibility to inform the population factually and in a nonpartisan manner and must refrain from making statements that have the propensity to bring the electoral process into question.
“The media is so powerful that it can set the tone for the election and it can also base election issues on personalities,” she said.
Cllr. Toe urged the media to help the National Election Commission to achieve its goal in the conduct of the elections.
Even though, the media was not the topic under discussion, owing to the significance of the topic, which called for peace and nonviolence among the various political parties, many of the speakers felt that the media’s role is also crucial in building peace.
The workshop was held under the theme: “Enhancing Tolerance, Mutual Understanding, Consensus Building and Cooperation for Peace and National Unity.” It brought together representatives of registered political parties, calling on them to commit to peace and nonviolence in the 2017 presidential and legislative elections.
Mrs. Frances Greaves, National Chairperson of the National Civil Society Council (NCSC), earlier in her remarks, called on political leaders to meticulously take their messages to the airwaves to avoid violence.
She also added later in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer that the media needs to carry messages of peace and nonviolence and review messages carefully before broadcasting or publishing them.
She further urged the political parties to stop using the media as a weapon and ensure that they respect each other’s views.
Cllr Sarah Toe reiterated in her message that “political parties, your role in the conduct of a peaceful election cannot be over emphasized, and that is why we are happy that you are leading the discussion for a peaceful 2017 election.
“Your commitment to play by the rules of the game and your willingness to always discuss issues that you perceive to be in contravention of the procedures can go a long way in creating a peaceful environment for the election.
“Because the commission (NEC) is the institution that confers legitimacy on elected officials in our democracy, it is not in the interest of any political party to be in confrontation with it,” she added.
Ganta was where representatives of 20 opposition parties recently converged and reached a collaborative agreement for victory in the coming general elections.
The ongoing consultative committee workshop was attended by scores of dignitaries, including partners, civil society organizations, EU Ambassador to Liberia, the USAID, IFES and the UNDP.
The security sector was represented by the Liberia National Police and the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN).
The workshop was organized by NEC, with assistance from the EU, UNDP, IFES and the USAID.
Jeremy Meadows, USAID Representative at the program, said violence and intimidation are threats to free and fair elections and urged the political parties to remain committed to peace.
The workshop covered topics, including experience sharing of inter–party collaboration; organizational capacity building; and structuring of political parties’ commitment to peaceful resolution, and ended with the signing of a resolution by all the political parties.