MONROVIA-British Ambassador accredited near Monrovia Neil Bradley has underscored the need for collective responsibility in order to help maintain the nearly two decades of Peace that Liberians are currently enjoying.
The peace he stated is very important and should not be taken for granted especially ahead of the 2023 general elections.
Speaking at programs marking International Peace Day on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, Ambassador Bradley acknowledged that the young people of Liberia are an important audience to the upcoming election process as such, he encourages them to compose themselves in order to set the right examples for the future Democratic process.
The peace he told the gathering is the starting point for every other good thing that any Country will want to see including Economic Prosperity, Education for the children as well as health care but without peace, non of these is possible, he maintained.
According to him, 2023 elections is a very important and historic moment for Liberia mainly at a time when the Country will take full charge of its security process, unlike the 2017 elections where about 18,000 peacekeeping troops under the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) were present to help provide security of the general population and its processes.
He said the upcoming election is a shared responsibility of all parties and interest groups.
“Individual citizens through their behavior can help ensure a safe environment and they also have their rights to exercise their Democratic franchise in peace and such rights should be protected “, he noted.
Moreover, he pointed out that individual and integrity institutions have a shared responsibility to safeguard the entire process from the beginning of voter registration to civic education, the counting of votes to the releasing of results including resolving any dispute that may have arisen during the entire process.
Liberia, the British envoy stated has set a strong record following the peaceful conduct of a transparent and fair election, ” It is a precious record, you need to hold on to that, you need to maintain it and set the examples within your region”, he emphasized.
Elections, the British Diplomat indicated is a moment of political assignment, a time of political contest between ideas and individuals adding that though people may have their diverse views and opinions on issues based on political affiliations, they have to remember and realize that Liberia is their common denominator.
“It is okay to have differences of views and election is a political contest but you have to do it in a peaceful and respectful way” , he stressed.
Ambassador Bradley was quick to add mention that law enforcement also has a key role to play in the process especially to ensure a peaceful environment in which the citizens can exercise their Democratic rights.
As for Civil Society Groups, he urged them to collaborate in order to have a stronger voice in observing and monitoring the process which will help build confidence.
“CSO, you have a key role to play to monitor the election and to bring to our attention, where there may be concerns but such must be done in a responsible way”, he noted.
The Media, he further indicated has a crucial role to play especially in disseminating factual and balanced information to the public but fear that misinformation and irresponsible reporting may risk the entire process.
On the part of the international community of which he is a part of, Neil disclosed that they will provide support and encouragement to the process.
“Confidence in the election outcome, giving a view on the fairness and transparency related issues that will characterize the process, are also important”, he said.
According to him, they all have an interest in a peaceful and prosperous Liberia as such, it is key for everyone to work together in the overwhelming interest of the Country.
” We look forward to contesting, competition and a peaceful, democratic, transparent, and fair outcome, as such let’s put Liberia first and remember that you have a strong track record on how you managed past Elections, so far , as such, let the tradition continues”, he encourages the gathering.
Also speaking at the program was the Executive Director of the Liberia Institute for Research and Democratic Development Mathais Yeaneh who called on the national government as well as political parties to see the need in working together to help maintain the peace of the Country.
“We focus on young people in the day-long dialogue because and in most cases, they are at the center of elections violence and the dialogue we believe will help them be engaged more in a civil and tolerant manner and form rather than involving into violence as a means of addressing elections-related disputes”, he told the media.
Additionally, Mr. Yeaneh stated that the dialogue will highlight the very key role the young people with having to play in the election process and how they as future leaders can become patriotic citizens in the society for tomorrow.
According to him, the young people are so far responding positively and are as well committing themselves to help sustained the hard-earned peace, something he noted is a good step in the right direction.
Meanwhile, the one-day event organized by the Elections Network Liberia (EN-Liberia) in partnership with the Institute for Research & Democratic Development (IREDD) under the CSOs Consortium on Elections Activity brought together Political Parties Youth in a Stakeholders Dialogue on Peace and Democracy in Liberia.
The program was in commemoration of this year’s International Day of Peace.
The Dialogue among other things served as a unique platform for national youth and student leaders as well as one of the major post-2017 Elections gatherings of political parties’ youth leaders in Liberia.
With the overarching objective of enhancing political tolerance, peaceful co-existence and the respect for the rule of law among young people, particularly before, during and after the general and presidential elections in Liberia, saw about fifty participants mainly young people of Liberia constructively exchanging views and diverse opinions about the upcoming elections process and how their role to the process is significant.