EDITORIAL: ADDRESS THE SECURITY SITUATION BEFORE ELECTIONS

Over 2.4 million Liberians are expected to go to the polls this year to elect a new President and Legislators or maintain the present administration. The conduct of an election in a country is a means of fostering the democratic process of every country. The pending Presidential and Legislative Elections is the first of its kind since the ascendency of football legend, George M. Weah as President of Liberia.

 

With the pending elections, there are issues of national concern that must be addressed before the conduct of the October 10, 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections. One of the contentious issues remains to be addressed for a peaceful, free, fair and democratic election is the security issue as tension continues to mount between supporters of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) including officials of the government on one hand and supporters of opposition political parties on the other hand.

 

While we are concerned about electoral violence and other forms of violence including tension amongst parties’ supporters at this present time, we are also concerned about the general security of the state especially when the conduct of the October 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections is around.

We are concerned about other issues that are counterproductive to the conduct of a free, fair and transparent electoral process. Not only during the elections period but the security of the state because without a trusted security, no investor would want to invest in a country.

 

We still noticed that impunity continued for individuals who committed human rights abuses, including atrocities during two civil wars, and multiple investigative and audit reports are being ignored. The government has made intermittent but limited attempts to investigate and prosecute officials accused of abuses, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government.

 

Impunity continues for corrupt officials, while unexplained deaths and mysterious disappearances continue. It is a known fact that significant human rights issues including unlawful killings, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; restrictions on freedom of expression and media, including violence and threats of violence against journalists; reports of corruption in government; lack of investigation and accountability for gender-based violence are all issues of concern that we think must be addressed in time as we draw toward the 2023 Elections.

 

Another issue of security that has caused a stir amongst Liberians in recent times is the not guilty verdict in the US$100 million drug case in which the defendants were exonerated and set free due to lack of sufficient evidence.

Recently, in a stunning turn of events, the jurors at Criminal Court ‘C’ reached a unanimous not-guilty verdict exonerating all four defendants accused of involvement in an alleged scheme to import a staggering 520kg of cocaine into Liberia. The seized drugs were estimated to be worth over US$100 million, making it one of the largest drug-related cases in the country’s history.

 

This unexpected verdict has sparked widespread debate and raised questions about the efficacy of the prosecution’s case. It is a known fact that the import and use of narcotic substances in the country is a security threat as many ordinary citizens are usually victimized by drug users. These drug users also have the potential to disrupt elections and cause serious embarrassment to state security.

Another issue is that despite the signing of a non-violent declaration amongst political parties at the Farmiton Hotel recently, we still see supporters of the governing CDC and of opposition political parties attacking each other verbally on a daily basis something that continues to threaten free, fair and peaceful elections.

 

We are concerned because if these issues are not adequately addressed before the elections, it may lead to violence, chaos, and other unforeseen situation that could take our country back to its ugly past.

That is why we are urging the government and other stakeholders including our international partners to ensure that these issues are addressed timely before the most contentious Presidential and Legislative Elections to avoid any eventuality.

 

We are raising these issues because we still remember our nation’s past history where innocent citizens and foreign friends were victimized because of political reasons. We call on the ruling party and opposition to embark on the messages of peace and prevent their supporters from making comments that are detrimental to the peace and stability of the nation.

As it is often said, security is everyone’s business and as such, we must all strive to ensure that the country remains peaceful as we move toward the October 10, 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections.

 

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