Liberia's Foreign Partners Condemn "Creeping Lawlessness"

(file photo).

-- Issue joint statement expressing concern about Saturday's violence

About seven diplomatic missions in Liberia, including the embassies of the United States of America and the EU Member States (France, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom), as well as the European Union (EU) Delegation to Liberia, on Tuesday, August 20, 2019 issued a joint statement expressing their concern about recent incidents of violence after the by-elections in Montserrado County.

"We condemn the violence that took place on Saturday, August 17, 2019 between supporters of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and supporters of the opposition of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), including the reported violent attacks against the opposition candidate Ms. Telia Urey in District #15 Representative by-election," the statement said.

Accordingly, the statement said, "following the recent decision by the National Election Commission's Hearing Officer to re-run the Montserrado County District #15 Representative by-election in few other polling stations, we urge all Liberians, and in particular all political parties, both their leaders and their supporters, to ensure a peaceful completion of the electoral process, and to refrain from any inflammatory statements or acts of aggression, intimidation or violence. We emphasize the importance of upholding the rule of law and contributing to a climate of tolerance, mutual respect and peaceful debate."

Therefore, the diplomats added, "We call on all Liberians, and in particular political leaders, and citizens conveying messages in traditional and social media, to avoid using hate speech, which could further enhance tensions and undermine the peace and stability of the country."

"We urge the Liberian authorities to complete a swift and objective investigation to hold accountable those instigating or executing violence in this and previous incidents."

In this regard, the statement noted, "We welcome the statement by President George Weah on Sunday, 18 August, which rejected electoral violence, and announced a thorough and expeditious investigation into the events, which occurred on Saturday, August 17, 2019."

"We commend and support the statements and efforts of Liberian political and civil society actors to foster peace and stability in the country. We also welcome the joint statement by the United Nations and the Office of the Special Representative of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission in Liberia on August 19, which also deplored the recent electoral violence."

According to them, Liberia has gone a long way in consolidating democracy, peace and stability since the end of the conflict in 2003; and Liberians should not let any form of political or electoral violence jeopardize or reverse the progress made.

Therefore, we express our confidence that the Liberian people will always protect their "country's hard-won peace and stability, because we remain fully committed to continuing to support the country's development and peacebuilding efforts."

UN, ECOWAS speak

In a related development, the United Nations (UN) and the Office of the Special Representative of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia, said they have observed with concern the increasing violence acts arising from the recent by-elections in Montserrado County.

"We deplore the violent attacks that have taken place during the Senatorial and Representative by-elections, and reiterate that electoral violence in all its forms and manifestations is criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, and constitutes one of the most serious threats to peace and security of Liberia.

We condemn the violence that occurred on Saturday, August 17 in District #15, Montserrado County, between supporters of the CDC and supporters of the Opposition Collaborating Political Parties," the statement said.

It added, "We commend the Government of Liberia's swift move to defuse tensions and foster dialogue between antagonists. We, therefore, urge the Ministry of Justice and the Liberia National Police (LNP) to carry out a prompt and impartial investigation into the unfortunate incident so that those responsible are held accountable, regardless of their political affiliations.

"We urge all Liberians in general and political parties in particular to reject violence and avoid using inflammatory language or hate speech that could further increase tensions. We appeal to Liberians to safeguard the hard-won gains made in consolidating peace and democracy and urge them to address electoral complaints in a peaceful manner and through legal means.

"The UN and the Office of the Special Representative of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia wish to renew our continued support to peaceful, credible and inclusive elections," the statement declared.

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