Humble Youth International (HYI), a local non-governmental organization, in collaboration with Peacebuilding Hub Liberia, yesterday began a civic awareness campaign against electoral violence during and after the upcoming October elections.
HYI’s mission to preach electoral peace is a result of of the way electoral activities are being conducted nowadays, with thought provoking expressions coming from opposition parties, the group said. HYI’s non-violence electoral campaign project is expected to cover communities in Monrovia and its immediate environs. It will last from August 21 to 24 focusing on the national theme, “Equal Rights for All,” and on the international motto, “Building Peace Together for a Safe and Better Liberia.”
The project, according to HYI executive director Ibrahim S. A. Sankoh, was started with support from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), through its Emergency Support for Preventive Diplomacy and related actions to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections. It is funded by the European Union (EU) Emergency Response Mechanism.
Yesterday’s activities highlighted the slogans: “Election business is everybody’s business”; “Let us resist all forms of electoral violence”; “Let us protect Mama Liberia for our children’s children”; “Let us discuss issues, but not personality attacks.” Other slogans were: “Let us treat everybody with respect” and “Do away with electoral violence.”
According to the project’s lead facilitator, Mrs. Jande Blay Walker, the project is necessary because, “Violence causes war and also stops the development of a nation; it separates families and destroys a whole country. So Liberians, please say no to electoral violence for a happy and safe Liberia.”
Mrs. Walker urged the 250 trained individuals to serve as ambassadors in their communities to convince at least ten persons each, who will in return advise other community members against electoral violence. “Through that action, it is expected that by the end of the program, 2500 residents in various communities would have been educated on the message of peaceful elections,” she said.
Other lecturers included the project coordinator; Frederick M. Sheriff, Liberia National Police Commander in the Jah Tondo Community, Brewerville, outside Monrovia, where the program was held; and the community policing chairperson, Roosevelt A. Morgan. Each of them underscored the importance of holding peaceful elections and to remain so during and after the electoral process. They spoke separately on the topics, Elections and Peace Building Violence Campaign; Security and Education; and Community Non-Electoral Violence Ambassadors’ Duties and Responsibilities. The project advisor, Madam Marie S. Doe, emphasized the importance of peace building messages during and after the electoral process.
Massa Lamie, George M. Roye, and Rose Laban were among several participants who promised to serve as peace ambassadors in their respective communities to caution residents, beginning with the youth, to shun violence, and instead choose a peaceful path to the elections with the objective of keeping the country safe.