The Liberia National Police (LNP) has laid down the ground rules for politicians as this year’s campaign intensifies. In a statement following the commencement of the campaign, Police Inspector General Gregory Coleman strongly warned sympathizers of politicians against using police or military uniforms.
He further warned party supporters against tearing down posters of other politicians, and motorcyclists against using roads that they are not allowed to ply.
Inspector General Coleman also warned that the LNP will use force where necessary, and cautioned politicians and their supporters to do everything they can to avoid violence.
These warnings by the LNP Inspector General followed a number of election-related disorders that in recent days have occurred on the national scene. These include the beating of police officer Roosevelt Demey Kidau by private security personnel assigned to the All Liberian Party political leader, Benoni Urey, and the tearing down of posters of Unity Party standard bearer, Vice President Joseph N. Boakai.
It is especially worrisome that on that very day private security guards of at least one political party beat up an officer of the state; while supporters of politicians are going against rule by tearing posters of other candidates.
The Liberia National Police, by an Act of Legislature, is established as a state security for all. This is why officers are not allowed to be partisans of any political group, but are mandated to ensure that they equally provide every Liberian security protection.
Moreover, whoever wins the election and becomes President of Liberia will have to work with the existing security sector, including the Liberia National Police (LNP), the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) and all the others. In fact, that President automatically becomes the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces.
Why would a person wishing to become President of the country be the one to have private bodyguards brutalizing a state law enforcement police officer?
As we have repeatedly stated in our editorials, Liberians are tired of war and violence and have been striving since 2003 to rebuild our lives and our country as peaceful and law-abiding citizens. What we Liberians need from politicians in this electoral season is a proactive, visionary and patriotic leader who will identify the enormous social and economic problems facing the country and find solutions to them through collective efforts of all citizens.
The United Nations, African Union, European Union, ECOWAS and other international partners that helped to resolve our 14-year conflict have also called for the peaceful conduct of campaign and elections. They have often emphasized the need for Liberians to recognize the gains that have been made to preserve the peace.
We cannot predict what will be the responses of our international partners to renewed violence and conflict after spending billions of dollars plus the lives of some of their own citizens to restore our peace.
We must make it unequivocally clear that it is downright unfair to our international partners and indeed to ourselves for anyone to play with and undermine our peace through reckless and totally uncalled for behavior.
We must clearly understand that we would have ourselves to blame for any act that would lead us to revert to violence or war. And let us candidly state in this Editorial that any such action by anyone or any party or party leader would put Liberia at the very serious risk of being abandoned by the international community, and rightly so. For who in the world would countenance (tolerate) such crass (obnoxious, ridiculous) irresponsibility on the part of a people who just the other day were utterly dependent on total strangers to save them (Liberians) from themselves in their totally unnecessary fratricidal strife?
We are aware that political parties had earlier signed a resolution committing themselves to a violence-free election, and Liberians and international partners remain highly convinced that parties and supporters will abide by their own rules. Insulting and ridiculing other candidates, or staging violence is of no need to Liberia. If Liberians would be convinced to vote you in, surely the least you can do is to show them the elementary respect and appreciation.
We are therefore urging all politicians and their supporters to be law-abiding and cooperate with the Liberia National Police and other law enforcement agencies in adhering to rule of law for the peaceful conduct of our elections.