6 October 2017

Liberia: UP Uses AFL in Campaign

Photo: Joseph Boakai
Joseph Boakai, Liberia's Vice President

The ruling Unity Party or UP has been accused of "incumbency abuse." It is alleged that Defense Minister Brownie Samukai deployed officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia or AFL to provide security for the contractors hired to construct a podium in Barnersville for the launch of its representative candidates' campaign ahead of vice president Boakai's visit there, the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) claim.

IREDD Project Manager Madam Sackey claims that such measure was as a result of fear from resistance by locals.At a news conference in Monrovia Thursday, Madam Sackey accused the UP of "incumbency abuse," claiming that the party uses Labor Minister Neto Zarzar Lighe and Defense Minister Brownie Samukai to serve on its campaign team and executive committee.

She claims that IREDD's monitors have reported that Min. Samukai allegedly assigned some officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) to provide security for contractors hired for the construction of a podium erected in Barnesville for UP's representative candidate's campaign launch and Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai's visit through the influence of Min. Samukai.

"We call on all government officials to draw a line of distinction between public and private resources, and see the need to desist from using assigned and public vehicles and other public assets for campaigning purposes," she cautions.

IREDD further calls on the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) Gen. Daniel Ziankhan to investigate the use of AFL soldiers to provide security for the construction of UP's podium as a matter of urgency and take practical steps to prevent its reoccurrence.

Citing Sections 5.1 and 5.2 of the Code of Conduct that restricts the involvement of all officials appointed by the president in political activities, IREDD claims that the UP seems to have been relaxed so far.

She alleges that senior government officials continue to canvass support for the incumbent government, thus expressing IREDD's strong condemnation of the use and involvement of the AFL in political activities when they are supposed to be neutral.

The Madam Sackey also claimed that vote buying is very common electoral corruption practice in Liberia, alleging that in different forms, all political parties and candidates have been involved with it.

"In some instances, institutions are reported to have been involved with political parties in providing some financial aid to them in the guise of investing in national corporations to have them revived," she said Thursday, 5 October when IREDD released its findings on the campaign process here.

The Institute is recommending those electoral laws and other codes that govern the behavior' of officials and political contenders alike be respected and upheld, while also urging the National Elections Commission (NEC) to be forceful and ensure compliance of the provisions of the elections law.

The research institute also recommends that all political parties should commit to a non-violent participation in all the electoral processes, saying it will be achieved by refraining from provocative speeches that can spark violence.

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