Ahead of the 2017 Presidential and Representatives elections, the Economic Community of West African States or ECOWAS, has expressed concerns about the national security of the country, taking into account, the United Nations’ draw plans.
ECOWAS Ambassador Tunde Ajisomo, through his proxy, Cllr. Lola Osunlalu, said Liberia has installed a democratically governed, coherent and cohesive socio-economic and political system. Speaking at a two-day workshop, organized by the National Elections Commission under the theme: creating a sense of ownership; elections security coordination, in Monrovia, Cllr. Osunlalu reflected that much of the efforts for post-conflict reconstruction of the security sector in Liberia have so far focused almost exclusively on the reconstructing aspect of the reform.
“In other words, all the security sector elements have witnessed one form of reform or restructuring of another. For example: the Liberal National Police or LNP, and Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization or BIN bills have finally been passed by the Legislature.
It is noteworthy that the efficiency of the Armed and Security Forces is emphasized in the security process because improved performance of security functions can have substantial impact on the country’s stability,” he said. Cllr. Osunlalu, however, intimated that improved performance was not necessarily sufficient for consolidating peace-building as the security forces may merely become more efficient in brutalizing and repressing the population. “A case in point was the excess `intervention of the Armed Forces of Liberia at the West Point Community in 2014, as well as several LNP/ERU brushes with the civil populace that were exercising their democratic rights during marches
and peaceful demonstrations,” he added. He outlined another challenge as the management of the expectations of a large army of restive and unemployed youths before and during election period, saying disgruntled politicians easily use these youths as willing tools to achieve their selfish political goals and foment trouble during elections, especially in an environment where there are no adequate security arrangements in place.
Cllr. Osunlalu pointed out that equally managing and coordinating the activities of multiple security agencies, systems and processed structures before and during elections could pose major challenges, emphasizing the need for proper synergy among security operatives and the National Electoral Commission.
According to him, what is beyond doubt is that the situation has improved somewhat and erring police officers can no longer assume impunity. He noted that the example culminates into some of the security challenges that may impede the upcoming 2017 presidential and Representative elections, if the necessary preparations were not put in place. He maintained that security officials must, at all times, remain loyal to the Constitution and should have clear understanding of its dictates and tenets of its workings, including the relevant part of the electoral laws and guidelines dealing with electoral security.
“Any infractions of this would make their actions and practices to be dictated by instincts and unconstitutional instructions and orders,” he stressed. Osunlalu – also the Special Assistant to ECOWAS Ambassador here, underscored the urgent need for the government at all levels, Civil Society, NGO’s and the media to engage early in providing Voters and Civic Education to all eligible voters, including security personnel.
This would go a long way in engendering positive political culture, as well as preventing political violence during election.
Commenting on corruption, he stated that the issue of corruption was a major trigger of political violence in Africa, indicating that the electoral system was not free from this menace.
He said it was, therefore, important that security personnel, as well as electoral officials, should not be induced with monetary gratification.
He recommended that the government complements its efforts in establishing Electoral Offences Commission or Tribunal to expedite judgment on election disputes as being practiced by some ECOWAS Member-States such as Nigeria and Ghana. This, he noted, would help to deepen electoral democracy in Liberia.-
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Edited by George Barpeen