6 October 2017

Liberia: Maintain the Peace - Say No to Electoral Violence!

opinion

Maintaining the peace worth speaking about in this electioneering period of our country's history. This historic legislative and presidential elections will mark the first time in 73 years that political power will be handed over peacefully, and democratically, from one elected leader to another.

This means, we cannot move a step further if we are not told how precious maintaining the PEACE matters to the world, and Liberia being no exception, is under obligation to do all in its powers that nothing divides us void of our different political affiliations and philosophical persuasions.

Most Africans are today risking their lives trying to reach Europe because of some level of insecurity that has engulfed the continent.

Globally, the numbers of those forced to leave their homes due to violence, war, persecution or natural disaster have reached staggering heights: at the end of 2014, United Nations estimated 19.5 million of these are people who have fled their country as refugees and half of them are children.

Seen in economic terms, the impact is also huge. The Global Peace Index calculated the cost of conflict to the global economy last year to be 9.21 trillion pounds ($13.7 trillion) as a result of increased military spending by states and more people driven from their jobs.

At the heart of many violent conflicts lie issues of inequality, injustice and exclusion.

While criminality can feed on and into a conflict, there are often genuine and unaddressed grievances at play and expressed in violence.

Maintaining the peace goes beyond speaking PEACE to upholding the values of nationhood and patriotism which are key to the country's stability.

Believably, we can positively hypothesize that election is like interschool football meet where the team players are not enemies. If the competition fall you, it's no big deal. You return to prepare for another season. If you win, you are hailed and carried shoulder high. Usually, the victor is noble in victory because the players are bound by kinship of the same communities. This same sportsmanship should be applicable even at the state level where most tribes are already knitted by marriage affinities. But it is educational to note that such interschool meet are guided by simple rules that must be adhered to firmly. You don't play your opponent from behind, among others.

Free and fair election is the solution to avoiding electoral violence. One vote, one person! No rigging! No inconsistency in released of results. Let us play by the right rules and reject violence.

When those vying for political seats come seeking votes from you, don't allow them to incite you to start fighting one another. Reject such politicians who neither mean well for you or for the country. Refuse to be hired as a human machine of violence which suggests that don't allow yourselves to be used as weapons to fight battles for anyone person.

Don't harm or kill anyone because of elections and its activities. Don't take a soul because you don't have the power to create single. Don't involve in arson; instead, strive to protect others' properties given that you will always need people to protect yours. Don't destroy public facilities because its aged to think that way. For the fact that you are aggrieved in one way or the other should not give you the impertinence to make burn - fire with used tyres on the tarred roads.

Researchers reported that such action will deteriorate the roads faster than you think thereby causing government undue pressure in repairing our roads and other damaged infrastructures.

Let's Say No to Violence!

Don't take the laws into your hands. There is no good side of violence. Violence brings in tears and sorrow. Violence is never an alternative and has never paid anybody in the past, and certainly will not pay anyone even now or in the future. We are therefore admonished to do away with all forms of violence especially electoral violence.

Electoral violence is a sub-category of political violence, which has received increasing international attention in recent years due to the devastating effects of outbreaks of violence in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan around elections. The danger is that violence creates a cycle of impunity that is difficult to break.

No matter what, violence remains a number evil. Political leaders are equally admonished to lead instead of deliberately stepping aside and allowing their followers to lead by making decisions or setting the agenda for leadership.

Political leaders should not be complicit in the glorification of hate speech, tribal and religious rhetoric by their followers. The behaviour of leaders on the ethical behaviour of followers is crucial in nurturing a democratic society we find ourselves today.

Unity is the only way through which we can prosper. No need for sectionalism, tribalism and divisions.

Remember that we live in a Liberia today where those currently occupying and/or vying for political seats have their immediate families, relatives and friends living abroad. Their dependents are acquiring the best of education abroad. Today most of us live below the global poverty line. We are lacking basic necessities of life including quality education, health care and better jobs; however, they are inciting us to instigate violence. The Question is, if there is violence today, which we don't pray for, who stands to benefit? Or going to suffer the consequences? Aren't you and I, our friends, families, friends and relatives who hope for the future are still anticipated though most of us are presently living in our future. If you were fooled before, don't repeat such unworthy action which stands not to benefit us and the unborn generation.

No issue could be more important for this and the coming generations than peace. Investments in health, education and other forms of development especially, empowerment and participation for the young people are only possible in an existing peaceful environment.

We have a Liberia full of prospects. Our patriotism to Liberia is what will help us progress in life now and in the future.

Rise Up now and Say No To violence!

Author:

Mr. Solomon Watkins is a journalist, a media development personal, an administrator, an advocate and founder of the Blojay Initiative for Development and Productivity (BIDaP), a civil society human development organization operating in Liberia.

Liberia

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