13 November 2017

Liberia: Peacekeepers Warn Over Election Delays

Photo: UNMIL
Peacekeepers from the UN Mission on patrol in Liberia (file photo).

International peacekeeping organizations in Liberia including the African Union Liaison Office in Liberia (AULOL), Office of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia and United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) are warning of the prospects of a significant delay in bringing the litigations in election matters to their closure, thereby thwarting completion of the election process before the constitutionally-mandated date of government transition in January 2018.

The joint statement issued Friday, 10 November says the AULOL, ECOWAS and UNMIL are calling for calm, upholding the rule of law and expeditious adjudication of the ongoing election disputes.

"In pursuit of efforts to facilitate a peaceful transition, we reiterate our call on all parties and stakeholders to exercise restraint, uphold the rule of law and conduct all activities with civility and in a non-violent manner, including in their public discourse," the joint statement says.

The call comes in the wake of a stalled presidential runoff election that was due to be held on 7 November but halted by a Supreme Court order pending the hearing and determination of an alleged fraud and irregularities complaint filed with the National Elections Commission (NEC) by defeated opposition Liberty Party (LP) presidential candidate Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine who is not designated for the runoff.

The statement says the AULOL, ECOWAS and UNMIL continue to keenly follow developments in Liberia and wish to commend all Liberians, and in particular political parties, for their peaceful conduct throughout the electoral process. "We are aware of the grievances and concerns of some political parties regarding the 10 October elections and their complaints to seek either a rerun, or amends towards improving the National Elections Commission's performance in the areas of concern before holding a runoff election," the peacekeepers note.

They add that they note the 6 November 2017 Supreme Court ruling, granting the [preemptive] writ of prohibition until the complaint filed by the Liberty Party is investigated by the NEC and, if need be, the appropriate appeal process to the Supreme Court is availed of and the matter is decided by the Supreme Court.

The AULOL, ECOWAS and UNMIL statement says while they support and encourage the due process followed by the aggrieved parties, they urge all concerned to continue utilizing the established legal mechanisms to achieve resolution. They remind all political parties of their firm commitment to promote a violence-free election, as expressed in their Farmington River Declaration of 4 June 2017, and as reiterated by their various recent public statements.

The peacekeepers remind parties here that the conduct of peaceful, free, fair and transparent elections is a prerequisite for democratic consolidation, sustainable peace and development in Liberia.

They express hope that all stakeholders will remain productively committed to a historic and peaceful transition and that the collective will and aspirations of the Liberian people will not be compromised for individual ambitions. "Allegiance to Liberia must remain the common denominator for sustaining peace and the pursuit of development," the Peacekeepers urge.

According to the international peacekeepers, they are calling upon all parties to deal with the electoral process in a sincere, responsible and professional manner and vigorously work towards early completion of the on-going legal petitions and motions, noting that the call is being made without prejudice to the decisions of the NEC and the Supreme Court.

They are calling for a conclusion of the matter without undue delay, expressing confidence that the people of Liberia will continue to remain enthusiastically engaged with the electoral process and strive to deliver a successful example of collective national victory in the interest of all Liberians, the region and the continent at large.

"Finally, we wish to make it clear that the destiny of Liberia and its peace and development trajectory remain the responsibility of all Liberians, while the International Community will continue to facilitate any possible assistance that may be deemed necessary to fast-track the country's development beyond the elections," the Peacekeepers conclude.--Press statement

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