This campaign seems to be one of the most contentious campaigns in the history of our country because the incumbent George M. Weah is being challenged by 19 other candidates for the nation’s highest office. But as it stands, it seems that the Presidential Election is a two-horse race with former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai being the main challenger to the incumbent Weah.
Since the start of campaign activities across the country there have been clashes and other forms of violence between supporters of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) of incumbent President Weah and the former ruling Unity Party (UP) of former Vice President Boakai despite the signing of the Farmington River Agreement which restraints parties and their supporters from engaging in violent activities during and after the campaign period.
At the very beginning of the campaign, Liberians witnessed an ugly scene when supporters of the ruling party-CDC were seen toting a casket bearing the image of Mr. Boakai who is believed to be the main contender to Mr. Weah; which many organizations and individuals including the CDC itself condemned. Days later, there were clashes around the Airfield belt where several persons from both parties got wounded. Again, yesterday morning it was reported that some Unity Party supporters were allegedly attacked by supporters of the ruling party leaving some wounded.
These are scaring situation that we think must be avoided if the election is to be conducted in a peaceful, free and fair atmosphere. What we are seeing now is that the ruling CDC and Unity Party are not adhering to the Farmington Agreement intended to maintain the peace we all craved for over the years as leaders of the two political parties are not doing anything to restrain their supporters from engaging in these kinds of violence.
First, let it be known that we strongly condemn the recent outbreak of electoral violence involving supporters of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and Unity Party (UP) in District #9 on Thursday and other places. We denounced the violent acts perpetrated by the UP and CDC parties because undoubtedly, these actions violate the principles and objectives set forth in the Farmington River Declaration.
Let the political leaders of the CDC and UP be reminded that the future of the country now lies in their hands and if they fail to restrain their supporters from engaging in further violence, it shows that they care less about diffusing tensions and preventing election-related violence. Our nation is at a crossroad as a result of the actions of supporters of President George Weah and Ambassador Joseph Boakai which threaten the fabric of the nation’s 20 years of postwar peace.
It seems that Mr. Weah and Ambassador who are believed to be the frontrunners in the pending elections appeared to lack control over their supporters who continue to engage in violent confrontations since the start of campaign activities in the country
The clashes between the two groups, which saw both parties throwing projectiles thus, leading to several people being injured started when rival supporters of both Weah and Boakai gathered for separate campaign rallies in the same district.
But while the fracas will need a thorough investigation to establish the root cause of the incident and how it unfolded, it is important to note that the action of President Weah’s and Boakai’s supporters is disturbing and frustrating as they threaten the country’s peace and stability of the nation.
Election violence, fueled by political maneuvering is an affront to the very essence of democracy. The right to choose one’s leaders through free and fair elections is a cornerstone of a functioning democratic society. One far-reaching consequence of such violence is that it jeopardizes the progress Liberia has made in healing from its past as the memory of the civil war is a clear reminder of the horrors that unchecked violence can unleash.
President Weah, as the head of state and the incumbent in the pending election has a significant responsibility to ensure the sanctity of the electoral process. While democracy thrives on the robust exchange of ideas and spirited competition, it also demands a commitment to peaceful coexistence and respect for the rule of law.
That is why we are calling on the President Weah and Ambassador Boakai and other political leaders to control their supporters as they go about their campaign activities because it is no doubt that election violence, fueled by political maneuvering is an affront to the very essence of democracy and also has the propensity to plunge the nation which they claimed to love dearly into another round of chaos as witnessed in the past.