Liberia: The Coalition of Liberian Women Organizations Wants Justice Ministry "Investigate and Prosecute" Individuals Involved With Electoral Violence in Gbarpolu County

Monrovia — The Coalition of Liberian Women Organizations says cultural and physical attacks on women during the electoral process are against Liberia's commitment to achieving women's representation in politics.

The group consists of Angie Brooks International Center (ABIC) YWCA, African Women Leaders Network (AWLN), The Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL), Young Women in Leadership and Knowledge Institute, Team for One Liberia More, Forum of Liberia Women Elders, Collaborating Political Parties Women's Movement, Coalition of Political Parties Women of Liberia, Movement for One Liberia and Liberian Women Can Lead made the statement when they condemned the attacks on Madam Botoe Kanneh, an Independent Senatorial Candidate who contested in the December 8, Special Senatorial Election.

Addressing the press at the YWCA in Congo Town, Cllr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh reading the statement narrated how they were able to escape with senatorial candidate Madam Kanneh from when local authorities in Gbarpolu County. The local authorities there had brought out male "country devil" to intimidate the senatorial candidate and her supporters.

"They know full well that women are prohibited from seeing the male devil. So, since when are cultural practices introduced into our elections?" Cllr. Wureh reading the statement asks.

"We request that President George Weah exhibits political will to protect women from all forms of violence including election-related violence."

"We urged President Weah to provide adequate resources to the Ministry of Justice to investigate and prosecute those who were involved in all election-related violence in Gbarpolu County," Cllr. Wureh asserted.

The supports she said will enable the Ministry of Justice to investigate, arrest, and prosecute all perpetrators of violence during the just-ended Special Senatorial Election.

"This investigation must include all those who abused our cultural traditions," Cllr. Wureh said.

"The Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Council of Traditional Leaders should immediately suspend all those traditional leaders accused of disrupting the elections process, arrest them, and turn them over for prosecution. If found guilty, they should be dismissed."

A re-run of the election is scheduled to take place but the group is calling the National Election Commission to conduct a complete investigation of the election-related violence and put a mechanism in place to deter future disruption in Gbarpolu County.

"The Armed Forces must be called on to support the security situation and protect voters. We request assistance from the United Nations, ECOWAS, and the U.S. Embassy to support monitoring and security in the area," Madam Wureh said.

Before the press conference, the Coalition of Liberian Women Organizations also met with the Minister of Justice Frank Musa Dean and Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf. Both Ministers, according to the women group gave their commitments to leave no stone unturned in the election violence in Gbarpulo County.

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