By Gabriel I.H. Williams, and Emmanuel D. Abalo
Dear Liberia Opposition Parties and Candidates,
We, Gabriel I.H. Williams, and Emmanuel D. Abalo, former leaders of the Press Union of Liberia, herewith address this Open Letter to all opposition political parties and candidates as a call for collective action to prevent the rigging of the October 2023 presidential and general elections and avert imminent violence in Liberia.
As Liberia descends into a state of chaos and instability while presidential and general elections are a few months away, this Open Letter is a call to all Liberian opposition parties and candidates to come together and devise a mechanism to ensure free and fair democratic elections.
Consultations are urgently needed to address serious concerns that Liberia’s ongoing electoral process is being seriously compromised by actions of the government, which appears to be working in partisanship with the National Election Commission (NEC), a body constitutionally mandated to supervise free and fair elections in keeping with internationally established democratic standards.
Accordingly, the mechanism to be devised from such consultations should incorporate a roadmap to ensure that the electoral process is peaceful, free and fair, and the international community duly informed to engage the Liberian government in this regard. If this is not done as soon as possible, politically motivated violence could be the outcome with dire consequences for Liberian democracy.
This is why the urgency for consultation could not be more pressing, given growing public alarm in Liberia that the country is becoming a powder keg of political discontent.
Our concerns that Liberia is gradually slipping into yet another state of political violence are based on but not limited to the following reasons:
The three alleged failed attempts to assassinate the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Courtof Liberia, Her Honor Gloria Musu-Scott, and the last attempt in which her daughter was murdered by the assailants on February 23, 2023. According to Justice Scott, who is also a former senator and a prominent political figure in the opposition Unity Party, her home was earlier attacked on February 8 and 9 by individuals who searched for documents in her residence and her vehicle, and that these terrifying incidents were reported to the police.
The alleged attempted assassination of the former Chief Justice is the latest in a series of what appears to be politically motivated killings in which the culprits have yet to be brought to book, since the government of President George Weah came to power.
We recall with alarm that in January 2023, the Liberia National Police announced the seizure of about 450 military-style weapons at the Freeport of Monrovia and parts of Montserrado County.
Since then, the government has yet to announce the outcome of any investigation, amid growing public speculation and fear that the country is being saturated with arms.
The weapon seizure followed pronouncements by the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) that certain individuals had contacted him to overthrow the democratically elected government of President George Weah, while the President was out of the country.
Recent pronouncements by the AFL Chief of Staff and the Minister of National Defense give us reasons for grave concern that the AFL could once again be used by the government to
terrorize and murder defenseless people as was the case in Liberia’s recent evil past; example being the brutal regime of military ruler Samuel K. Doe.
We are also alarmed by the increasingly partisan role of the Liberia National Police (LNP), which is seen to be turning into nothing more than a lynch mob for the government.
After months of delay, the results of the very poorly conducted national census was recently announced, while there has also been delay in the conduct of the voters’ registration, which is critical to determine the number of eligible voters in the country.
As the election date approaches, many critical benchmarks to ensure credible democratic elections have not been met, while election guidelines and regulations are being flagrantly violated, such as the recent mass political rally held in Monrovia by the ruling party. Most disturbing is how the
National Elections Commission (NEC) appears to be conducting its affairs as an extension of the ruling party and the government of President Weah, who is seeking re- election.
If the election process is interrupted due to disputes and other challenges, the country runs the risk of a major
constitutional crisis. In keeping with the Liberian Constitution, the tenure of President Weah is to end in January 2024.
What would happen if there were no elected government in Liberia before next January? Whether President Weah would continue in office or an interim government would be put in place after the end of his tenure, there is a possibility of violence under these circumstances.
This is a matter of grave concern. And that is why we urge leaders of all registered political parties that are not part of the ruling coalition to designate representatives to a roundtable gathering for the purpose of addressing the logistics of the elections. It is, therefore, our hope that this Open Letter would claim the urgent attention of Liberians who have declared their respective intentions to become presidential candidates in the October 2023 elections.
All registered political parties whose attention is urgently needed include the following: Unity Party (UP), Alternative National Congress (ANC), Liberty Party (LP), Liberian People’s (LPP), All-Liberia Party (ALP), United People’s Party (UPP), Liberia Action Party (LAP), Liberia National Union (LINU), Liberia Unification Party (LUP), All Liberian Coalition
Party (ALCOP), New Deal Movement (NDM), and People’s Liberation Party (PLP).
Liberia is like a ticking time-bomb. You can save our war-ravaged country from further bloodshed by acting collectively to
institute a mechanism to ensure that the October 2023 elections are free, fair and peaceful.