11 September 2017

Liberia: Pen-Pen Peace Network for Violence-Free Elections Launched

A former deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Ms. Una Kumba Thompson, has called on Liberians to maintain a peaceful and non-violent approach during and after the ensuing elections.

Madam Thompson said as the country prepares to go to the polls on October 10, the need to sustain the peace by shunning a violent approach to electoral issues cannot be overlooked.

The former deputy Foreign Affairs Minister is the chief executive officer of the Women of Liberia Peace Network (WOLPNET) and president of the Swanee Women's Coalition, an organization which supports women's advocacy for their rights, empowerment and peace in Liberia.

Launching the 'Pen -Pen Peace Network non-violent campaign in Monrovia on the theme, "I Love my Country; This is Why I Say No to Election Violence.," Thompson challenged politicians not to preach hate messages during and after the electoral processes, but rather seek peace to carry out the country's development agenda.

She also called on the commercial motorcyclists otherwise known as the pen-pen riders to fully support the electoral process if they are to make an informed decision at the polls, "because peace is security, development and human rights abuse.

The campaign was organized by the Purdue Peace Network-Liberia. The head of the organization, Grace Yeah Yeanay said the month-long campaign will cover Nimba, Margibi, Montserrado and Bong counties, targeting 64 communities in Montserrado alone.

Prior to the weekend launch, the Purdue supported Pen-Pen Peace Network (PPPN) has held a series of activities highlighting the importance of peaceful elections.

The Purdue Peace Project (PPP), according to Yeanay, convenes regularly to help the citizens address immediate threats of violence to the pending elections in their community.

The reason, Ms. Yeanay said, is to continually monitor and evaluate the projects in order to maximize its impact so that everyone will live in peace and harmony especially during election year.

The PPP is a university-based political violence prevention initiative that does peace-building work in fragile states and conducts research to advance knowledge about political violence prevention at the local and community level.

In 2013, a group of motorbike riders or the Pen-Pen riders formed a local peace committee, called the PPPN, to promote peace in the country. Since September 2015, the PPPN, in support of the Purdue Peace Project, has been planning and implementing a campaign aimed at promoting peace before and during the upcoming October polls, and fostering good relationships between Pen-Pen riders and officers of the Liberia National Police.

Since then, numerous activities, such as soccer tournaments, town hall meetings, radio talk shows, distribution of flyers, and round table discussions have taken place characterizing the campaign's launch.

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