29 July 2017

West Africa: Politics-Election-UN/AU/Ecowas

As political parties and candidates for the October Presidential and Legislative elections are about to enter the official electoral campaign period, from July 31 to October 8, three international bodies have called upon all stakeholders to spare no effort in their pursuit of peaceful elections in Liberia.

The bodies are the African Union Liaison Office in Liberia (AU), the Office of the Special Representative of the President of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).

They said these elections, and the subsequent transition, will mark a significant milestone whereby a sitting President will hand over power from one elected President to another.

This was contained in a joint statement issued by the AU, ECOWAS and UNMIL on the occasion of the official commencement of the electoral campaign by political parties and candidates on July 31.

"As Liberians enter into the final phase of this historical process, we remind political parties of their obligations to peaceful campaigning in compliance with the country's electoral laws, international standards and the landmark Farmington River Declaration that parties signed on 4 June 2017, the statement said.

It noted that during the past 14 years of uninterrupted peace, Liberians have demonstrated their determination to reconstruct and move forward together, in their diversity, to build a prosperous and democratic society.

The bodies reminded Liberians that the 2017 elections represent an opportunity for all Liberians - government officials, political parties, religious and traditional leaders, civil society, the media, and citizens from all walks of life - to reaffirm their love of country, and their commitment to fair play and moderation in the interest of the common good.

"We encourage all Liberians to support national authorities, including the National Elections Commission, the Liberia National Police and the Judiciary, in carrying out their responsibilities for conducting the elections, providing security and handling any electoral disputes, in accordance with the law and relevant regulations.

"We call on the NEC, security agencies and other relevant stakeholders to continue to uphold the electoral laws and create an enabling environment for all political parties and candidates to guarantee free, fair and peaceful elections," partners said.

They further called on Liberians to make their choices in the upcoming elections on the basis of ideas and platforms, in the best interest of society, adding: "Such choices should be devoid of negative tendencies, including personal attacks and provocative statements that can incite violence."

To this end, the AU, ECOWAS and UNMIL said they are following these developments closely, as urged all stakeholders to encourage their supporters to avoid the use of inflammatory language and exercise restraint in words and deeds.

They then called on the political parties and actors to prioritize national interest, participate actively in the electoral process and, where necessary, utilize available legal means and options in seeking redress for any electoral grievances.

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