Liberia: Peacebuilding Officer takes Issue With Gov’t, Opposition

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The Executive Director of Liberia’s Peace Building Office at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Edward Mulbah, has observed the tense political climate as a clear warning sign of further chaos on the wall.

Despite the signing of the Farmington River Declaration that aims to promote peaceful and non-violent elections, Mr. Mulbah indicated that hate speeches and violations of the laws including the very Farmington Declaration has been the order of the day, and as such, parties to this document must be reminded and do the needful to have violence free elections.

The Liberia’s peace building officer made these comments Tuesday, August 15, 2023 at the start of a three-day training of heads of civil society organizations on electoral dispute management and response designing by the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) under the Electoral Violence, Monitoring and Mitigation (E-MAM) project for the ensuing Presidential and Legislative Elections.

“The warning signs are on the wall and it’s worrisome. Hate speeches and violations of the laws including the Farmington Declaration have been the order of the day. The parties need to be reminded,” said Mr. Mulbah.

According to him, political parties, as government in waiting, have the responsibility to keep peace, but the greatest responsibility lies on the shoulders of the government, something which he said both sides have failed to do.

In a bid to avert these early warning signs from degenerating into violence, Mr. Mulbah called on all political and regime to act in a matter that will promote peace. This is a two-edge sword; these elections would either take us back to the dark days or lead us to lasting peace.

He urged government functionaries that are involved with elections activities including the Ministry of Justice, the Liberia National Police (LNP), and the National Elections Commission (NEC) to be proactive to address these warnings that could lead to electoral violence.

Speaking further, Mr. Mulbah alarmed over the integrity of the elections based on reports gathered from various political parties about the ensuing process.

“From the perspective of the National Situation Room, we are concerned about the integrity of the elections. We are concerned about the trust and confidence and level playing fields have not been created based on information received from various political parties. If the process leading to the election is not good, the outcome is not going to be good. Based on this, we are going to hold a conference on electoral integrity management,” he asserted.

At the same time, he pointed out that CSOs are charged with the responsibility to represent the voices of the vulnerable; however, he observed that this has not been the case in hand because the CSOs themselves have been fragmented, adding:

“CSOs should rise up to the plate. Consolidate and harness your resources and make a greater impact. Do a robust monitoring to have evidence based report of the process. To make sure that the Farmington lives on, our deeds and utterances must be responsible to promote peace. The response aspect is weak. The religious council is not the way it used to be. It must strengthen its capacity to help promote peace,” the Liberia’s peace building officer added.

Philip M. Kollie, National Network Coordinator of WANP-Liberia, said the ongoing, training is part of the “good” initiatives by the organization that aim to contribute to peaceful elections in Liberia.

“It is a process that paves the way for us to work together as Liberians to address electoral violence. The need to conduct free and fair elect is critical,” he told the gathering.

With its presence in 11 of 15 countries in the sub region, Mr. Kollie maintained that WANEP’s utmost goal is to seek means that contribute to the prevention of electoral violence across West Africa through collaborative effort with CSOs and by strengthening their capacity.

Atty. Tonieh Tarley Wiles, Board Chair of WANEP-Liberia, stressed the need for collaborative efforts to address the current hurdles that the country is faced with.

“We are hopeful to overcome those hurdles when we work together. This is a critical year for Liberia and we must thank our regional partners for the support,” Atty. Wiles indicated.

Dr. Nathaniel Walker of the ECOWAS Commission lauded WANEP for the initiative and committed ECOWAS’ support to supporting initiatives that support peace in Liberia, especially for the ensuing elections.

“Continue the great job and ECOWAS will stand with you. We are watching the triggers keenly. These activities are aimed at ending electoral violence. This is part of the process of the work in enhancing peace and this is why the role of CSO remains vital. Let me use this medium to inform you that the Draft Report of the ECOWAS facts finding mission is out and would be released soon,” Walker disclosed.

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