Madam Victoria Wollie, National Network Coordinator of the West African Network for Peace-building (WANEP), has appealed to every Liberian irrespective of social status to remain peaceful during the upcoming October elections.
She made the statement recently in Monrovia at the end of a two-day validation and hotspot mapping workshop aimed at mitigating electoral violence.
The workshop, which was organized by WANEP, brought together over 25 participants from various government agencies, the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), the Liberia National Police (LNP) and civil society organizations.
Madam Wollie said the forum was part of WANEP’s efforts to discourage elections-related violence, and to also identify early warning mechanisms for any West African country including Liberia that is about to go to the polls.
“Our aim is to have a peaceful electoral process in October,” Madam Wollie stated.
WANEP, she said, was established to play an active role by working with local and international partners to put in place early warning mechanisms that will reduce the risk of electoral violence in the ECOWAS sub-region.
Ms. Evelyn Avoxe, WANEP’s Early Warning Mechanism Program Manager, said the forum was also intended to identify potential flashpoints for conflicts during the elections period so that stakeholders could strategize how to tackle conflict-sensitive issues.
For his part, AFL Deputy Chief of Staff Brigadier General Prince C. Johnson assured participants that the army will play its role in line with its duty to protect the territorial integrity of Liberia at all times, which is not limited to an election year.
“We always advise our force, and I must assure here today, that we will not repeat those mistakes of the ugly past that brought about the restructuring of the army. This is our chance and we will not misstep,” General Johnson assured.
Prosper Addo, Officer-in-Charge of the African Union office in Liberia, commended WANEP for organizing the initiative, and called for strategies aimed at promoting peace and stability beyond the electoral process.
“This is very good, a very meaningful initiative, but I think we should think beyond the 2017 elections,” he said.