-UNOWAS Head Ibn Chambas stresses
The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, has said that democracy cannot strive in the absence of the rule of law, and has therefore lauded the ongoing post-election legal processes in the country.
Dr. Chambas said Liberians can no longer afford to seek the routes of their old ugly past and have taken the best trend by settling their disagreements through legal means. He made these comments while addressing the media at the end of the 31st High-level Meeting of UN Missions in West Africa, held in Monrovia.
Liberia, since the October 10 presidential and representative polls, has been overwhelmed with a political impasse precipitated by allegations of ‘gross irregularities and probably fraud’—leading to two of the top three political parties, Liberty Party and the ruling Unity Party, using legal means in seeking redress.
Though many have lauded the legal trend instead of taking their grievances to the streets, the political stalemate and its ensuing events have caused some anxiety in the Liberian public.
After lauding the peaceful nature of the October 10 elections, Chambas, who is also the head of the UN Office for West and the Sahel (UNOWAS), noted that compliance with the rule of law and due process is essential for strengthening Liberia’s nascent democracy—while expressing the hope that the electoral process would be concluded expeditiously, stressing that legal challenges should be legitimate and in good faith.
Also in attendance at the 31st High-level meeting was the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG) and head of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Farid Zarif; in Mali (MINUSMA), Mahamat Saleh; and the UN Resident Coordinator for Cote D’Ivoire, Babacar Cissé.
The objective of the meeting was to provide insights and exchange views on peace and security dynamics in the areas of operations of respective missions and in the West African region. It was also meant to strengthen coordination in order to address common challenges in such areas as elections, transnational organized crimes, violent extremism and terrorism, security sector and constitutional reform processes, as well as democratic transitions.
Like many of the statements from international partners, the statement read by the UNOWAS head on behalf of his colleagues also emphasized that the will of the Liberian people must be respected. He also made mention of the importance of adhering to the constitutionally mandated date for the inauguration of the new government in January 2018.
He, however, underscored the need for all parties and stakeholders to exercise restraint, uphold the rule of law and conduct all activities with civility and in a non-violent manner, including in their public discourse.
Dr. Chambas said peaceful, free, fair and transparent elections are a prerequisite for peace consolidation and sustainable development in the country. “The destiny of Liberia remains the responsibility of all Liberians,” he stressed.
He emphasized that the international community needs to continue its assistance to Liberia’s development beyond the conclusion of the electoral process and UNMIL’s withdrawal.
He also expressed the hope that upcoming elections in other West African states will consolidate the democratic progress and bring about an increase in women’s participation in politics.
The much-respected Chambas is a Ghanaian lawyer, diplomat, politician and academic who has served as an international civil servant since 2006. Previously, he served as the UN SRSG and Head of the Joint UN-AU Peacekeeping Mission in Darfur (2012-2014); the Secretary-General of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (2010-2012); and the President of the ECOWAS, 2006-2009.
Farid Zarif of UNMIL said that Liberians have demonstrated that they are resolved to be peaceful as they anxiously await the outcomes of the legal proceedings. He also warned Liberians that the international community has invested so much in the country “because it believes in the Liberian people, their aspirations and the development of the country.”