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Avoid hate speech

-Liberians warned

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Liberia seems to be attracting global attention again, this time around, not for very good reasons but as a result of waves of political violence in the capital leading to injuries and destruction following the 29 July by-elections in Montserrado County.

The international community had earlier hailed the West African nation for its first peaceful political transition in more than 170 years after elections in 2017. Barely a year after, there is a visible return of tension and violence in the streets involving stone-throwing youth from President Weah’s governing Coalition for Democratic Change and supporters of four collaborating opposition political parties here.

In a Joint Statement Tuesday, August 20th the European Union (EU) Delegation and the Embassies of the United States of America and the EU Member States (France, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom) condemn the violence that took place on Saturday, 17 August, between supporters of the Coalition for Democratic Change and supporters of the opposition Collaborating Political Parties, including violent attacks against opposition candidate Telia Urey in Montserrado District #15.

The Joint Statement calls on Liberians, including political leaders conveying messages in traditional and social media, to avoid hate speech, which could further enhance tensions and undermine the peace and stability of the country.

“…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”, it reads.

The EU Delegation Foreign Embassies urge Liberian authorities to complete a swift and objective investigation to hold accountable those instigating or executing violence, while welcoming statement by President George Manneh Weah, rejecting electoral violence and calling for a thorough and expeditious investigation into the events which occurred on Saturday.

They also commend and support statements and efforts of Liberian political and civil society actors to foster peace and stability in the country, including Monday, August 19, joint statement by the United Nations and the Office of the Special Representative of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia, which also deplored the recent electoral violence here.

In a combined statement, the UN and ECOWAS condemned the incident and urged the Ministry of Justice and the Liberia National Police to conduct prompt and impartial investigation into the fracas so that those responsible can be held accountable, regardless of their political affiliations.

Tuesday’s Joint Statement notes that 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.

“We express our confidence that the Liberian people will always protect their country’s hard-won peace and stability. We remain fully committed to continuing to support Liberia’s development and peacebuilding efforts”, the EU Delegation and Foreign Embassies assures.

Liberia suffered 14 years of bloody civil war, which ended in 2003 following peace brokered by ECOWAS and the United Nations followed by subsequent deployment of 15,000-strong peacekeeping Mission, UNMIL. The UN disarmed armed factions and supervised democratic elections in 2005 that restored civilian rule. Story by Jonathan Browne

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