25 April 2017

Liberia: Sawyer Tells Liberians to 'Let 2017 Polls Build On Peace, Democracy Gains'

The Chairman of the Governance Commission (GC) has said the 2017 Presidential and Legislative Elections must build on the gains of over a decade of peace and democracy in the country.

In his foreword in the Commission's 2016 Annual Report released recently on the 2017 electoral process, Dr. Amos C. Sawyer placed emphases on national development which also attracts international concern, adding, "Liberians must make this happen."

Sawyer observed that UNMIL's withdrawal and the forthcoming elections are two developments that "have been on the minds of Liberians and have resonated in their conversations" since the end of the Ebola Virus outbreak over the last two years.

He said despite some uncertainties at first, Liberians are now faring well as state security forces have taken over security responsibilities around the country with people going about their daily activities in a peaceful environment.

He noted the apprehensions that sank into Liberians regarding the departure of UNMIL as they were related in part to the upcoming elections which will be chronicled in history as the third since 2005 when Liberia returned to constitutional rule.

He added: "The 2017 Presidential and Legislative Elections are a landmark, as Liberians are reminded that not since 1944 has there been the transfer of executive powers from one democratically elected president to another. Therefore, it is understandable that excitement and concerns fill the air."

Sawyer indicated in the report that the Commission has sought to study the electoral system with a view to contributing to delivering peaceful and credible elections.

He added that the report also examines the electoral rules and procedures, management structures of elections and the preparation for several phases of the process, recalling past electoral challenges from which lessons should be learned.

"But the report seeks to go beyond a focus on the mechanics of elections as indispensable to holding credible and peaceful elections and to also contribute to understanding elections' role in promoting citizenship, reconciliation and a development agenda as explicitly stated in the Liberian Constitution and Elections Law," he pointed out.

He indicated that these instruments and the processes they drive require political parties to be broadly national in membership; prohibit them from espousing ideologies and agendas that are sectarian or "promotive of violence or division of any kind."

According to him, those instruments and processes also require for elections to be about making choices that should strengthen a sense of common citizenship, pursuing a common vision, strengthening reconciliation and deepening democracy.


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