ECOWAS charges Liberian Parties' Flag Bearers to respect Electoral Peace Accord
Mon, Oct 9, 2017 | By publisher
JOHN Mahama, head of ECOWAS Election Observation Mission to Liberia, has urged flag bearers of political parties for the country’s Tuesday, October 10, elections to respect their commitment to peaceful polls as contained in the Farmington River Declaration they signed in Monrovia, last June in the presence of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government.
Twenty candidates – 17 sponsored by political parties including the only female, and three independent flag bearers – are vying for the presidency being vacated by Africa’s first democratically elected female President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, while more than 980 candidates are contesting for the 73 parliamentary seats at stake in the polls.
“There will be more losers than winners, so you must do everything to avoid confusion or conflict,” the head of ECOWAS Mission, Ghana’s immediate-past president, told a gathering of the flag bearers at a meeting in Monrovia on October 8, facilitated by the UN Mission in Liberia, UNMIL.
He enjoined them to settle all disputes through legitimate legal means in the interest of peace and consolidation of democracy in Liberia, Africa’s oldest Republic.
Mahama also commended the spirit of cooperation shown by international observers, and the unrelenting support by ECOWAS and the international community to Liberia, adding that all hands must be on deck to make the October vote a reference point for subsequent elections in the region, especially in Sierra Leone which holds its own elections in March 2018.
In his remarks, the ECOWAS Commission President Marcel de Souza echoed the head of Mission’s sentiments, calling for peaceful and credible elections in Liberia.
Welcoming the flag bearers to the meeting, which was also attended by representatives of international organisations and other heads of observer missions, Farid Sarif, special representative of the UN Secretary General and head of the UN Mission in Liberia, UNMIL, noted that “there are no perfect elections anywhere in the world.”
In the case of Liberia, where UNMIL has been maintaining peace for the past 14 years following the country’s devastating civil war that broke in 1989, he said: “naturally, there would be concerns and challenges,” but given the level of preparations, he was optimistic the polls would go well.
The UN official told Liberian political actors to play by the rules to ensure a peaceful and credible electoral process, noting that the attention of the whole world was on Liberia.
Similarly, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, special representative of the UN secretary general and head of the UN Office in West Africa and the Sahel, told the flag bearers that “what is at stake is more than any individual’s political ambition.”
“The Lone Star is shining, and you must let it continue to shine,” he said, in a reference to Liberia’s National emblem.
Other speakers included the heads of the Observation Missions for the African Union, the EU and the Carter Center.
The flag bearers or their representatives at the meeting reiterated their commitment to the Farmington Declaration. Some of them raised some concerns related to security and the contingency ballot papers printed by Liberia’s National Elections Commission, NEC, for the elections, which the head of ECOWAS Mission promised, to take up with the relevant authorities.
Other organisations represented at the meeting, seen as one of the conflict prevention measures ahead of the crucial elections included the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, OSIWA, the U.S. National Democratic Institute, NDI, and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, EISA.
Liberia has an estimated population of 4.5 million and the NEC registered some 2.18 million voters who will cast their ballots to elect Liberia’s 25th president and MPs.
The polls, which outcome could have implications for peace, security and democracy in Africa, especially in the aftermath of the Kenya’s recent experience, will be conducted in 2,080 Polling Precincts (Centres) with 5,390 Polling Places (Stations)
Out-going President Johnson-Sirleaf is not seeking re-election after serving two-terms from 2006, and this would be the first time a democratically elected government will be transferring political power to another in 70 years in Liberia.
– Oct 9, 2017 @ 17:30 GMT /
Tags: ECOWAS charges Liberian Parties' Flag Bearers to respect Electoral Peace Accord John Mahama President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf