Press Statement for Immediate Release
From the Office of the Youth Ambassador Martin KN Kollie– International Human Rights Commission (IHRC) – Monrovia, Liberia, October 10, 2017
There is a lot for Africa’s oldest republic to gain if PEACE reigns after October 10, 2017 polls, but there is also a lot to lose if VIOLENCE prevails. The over 2.8 million youth in Liberia have a chance once more to choose PEACE over VIOLENCE. We caution them to refrain from all acts of violence and stand up for peace ahead of Liberia’s historic Presidential and Legislative Election.
Never again must Liberian youth allow themselves to be used as anti-peace agents and architects of violence, but as ambassadors of peace, champions of national unity, vessels of fraternal love, and builders of a new beginning and prosperous nation. Never again must they allow their energy, intelligence and youthful exuberance to be misused. We hope Liberians, especially eligible voters, will cease this occasion to pursue a common agenda for inclusive change through patriotism and nationalism.
It has been proven globally that PEACE is the ultimate choice of hope, unity and prosperity. With PEACE, Liberia shall forever rise to a peak of social justice, equality and economic freedom. Peace everywhere and anywhere has become a catalyst of commonality, a source of solidarity and a bond of shared prosperity. The process of transformation in any country starts and ends with PEACE.
It is essential to reecho that the development of Liberia wholly depends on a free, fair and transparent election. As Liberia democratically transitions in the next 24 hours, there is an unquenched yearning for PEACE across its 15 counties and 73 districts. Judging from Liberia’s horrible past, it is important for all Liberians to conduct themselves in a peaceful, civil, matured and patriotic manner. Only Liberians can maintain and sustain this 14-year-old peace that citizens of the country currently enjoy.
The reward for sustaining PEACE in Liberia during, on and after October 10, 2017 is crucial to consolidating Liberia’s emerging democracy and strengthening its stability. PEACE in Liberia must never be traded for anything, not even to protect any politician’s interest or in exchange of anyone’s parochial agenda.
Whenever this priceless commodity (PEACE) is threatened by violence, the future of the nation becomes gloomy and uncertain. The consequences of violence are not only huge, but deadly and debilitating. Violence has done more harm than good to Liberia – The 15-year civil crisis is a history to reference.
Must Liberians continue to use this route (violence) as a means of finding solution to deepening political differences and disenchantments? We say NO and absolute NO forever! Liberians will have to understand that violence only destroys, and cannot build. As Liberia and Liberians gradually recover from the wounds of war, the need to promote and guarantee PEACE during, on and after this October 10, 2017 Election cannot be overstressed.
Everyone, including politicians, partisans and sympathizers as well as officials of NEC, has a role to play in securing this PEACE at all cost. Electoral violence cannot be an option, and it must never be. We hope opposition political parties as well as the ruling party will adopt the classic and democratic approach of the opposition and the ruling party in Kenya’s recent election.
Using the court system to settle electoral disputes and/or allegations of electoral frauds is a unique democratic approach to utilize. Dialogue through diplomacy and negotiation must not also be ignored or overlooked during this process. Democracy can never flourish in the midst of violence and instability. PEACE is the answer. It is worth noting also that a peaceful Liberia is tied to a free, fair and transparent election.
Therefore, we call on the National Elections Commission (NEC) to demonstrate the highest degree of independence and impartiality during this electoral process. By doing so, public confidence and trust would increase. There are a lot more to learn from electoral violence, not only in Liberia, but nations across Africa:
- At least 3,000 persons died with hundreds of thousands displaced after Ivory Coast was engulfed by a post electoral conflict for 4 months 14 days between November 28, 2010 and April 11, 2011.
- About 1500 persons died with 600,000 displaced between December 28, 2007 and February 28, 2008 after the main opposition leader Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement said the election of incumbent Mwai Kibaki was characterized by manipulation in Kenya.
- There was sporadic post-election violence across Uganda after Yoweri Museveni was disputably re-elected as President on February 18, 2016 for a fifth-term. At least 22 persons were killed. Main opposition leader Kizza Besigye and other opposition rivals said the election was rigged.
- During the 2003 Federal and States elections in Nigeria, at least 100 people were killed and many more were injured with properties destroyed.
- Violent protest by the opposition against the government left over 50 people dead and 49 injured ahead of Guinean Legislative Election on 28 September 2013.
- On August 31, 2016, three (3) protesters were shot dead in Gabon with dozens wounded and properties destroyed after incumbent President Ali Bongo won opposition politician Jean Pin with a narrow margin of less than two percent.
- There were violent clashes in Brazzaville with heavy firing in opposition camps in March 2016 after opposition decried foul-play in an election that gave Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso another term. Lives and properties were destroyed.
Let us not forget also about the violent protests sweeping across Djibouti and Chad in April 2016 where there were fierce clashes and blood battles between supporters of the opposition and the ruling establishments. Never must we forget about Zambia’s most recent electoral violence after the main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema accused the incumbent Edgar Lungu of vote tempering on August 11, 2016.
We hope Liberians can learn from these hard lessons and conduct themselves peacefully. Beyond this end and in pursuit of peace, we are cautioning all candidates to accept the choice of the Liberian people after the voting process. In our opinion, democracy can only fulfill its true essence if losers are willing to accept the ultimate will of the majority. Consequently, the power to announce official election results lies with NEC and NEC alone according to Liberia’s constitution and new electoral law.
The days of creating havoc are over. This kind of Liberia has no space in the collective dream of the Liberian people. Now is the time for every Liberian to stand with PEACE, because the prize of violence is terribly painful. Its consequences are huge, and Liberians must never travel this road anymore. But the value of PEACE is precious and priceless. On this path, Liberians can reconcile, unite and build a new nation of indivisibility and prosperity together.
Let Liberians not forget that beyond political lines and interests, they remain Liberians. They must do all they can to ensure a peaceful transition and guarantee a peaceful nation. Say NO TO VIOLENCE, and YES TO PEACE.
Done, sealed and officially issued in Monrovia on this 10th Day of October A.D. 2017.
Martin K. N. Kollie
Youth Ambassador, IHRC
firstname.lastname@example.org (+231 886750556)