Towards to the end this year, the people of Liberia will again place their trusteeship in hands of a single individual as President, as they did in 2005 and years past. Already, the process is ongoing under the guidance of the National Elections Commission with national campaigning scheduled to begin July 5, 2011, followed by a national referendum in August. About a dozen politicians whose only job in Liberia is the presidency and several other low-level politicians may participate with the objectives of becoming the country’s next president, representatives and senators.
Far ahead of the July 5 campaign commencement, pre-election campaign exercises had already been ongoing throughout the country by most, if not all political parties and aspirants for various political positions without any serious warning from the NEC. As we have observed, these pre-election campaign exercises have and continue to be characterized by uncivilized political cultures to include uncontrollable profanities, as well as reckless demonization, among others, through the Liberian media.
Such recklessness on the part of the politicians and some media institutions are brewing tensions, so much so that many well-meaning Liberians have begun harboring the fear that if such situation was not arrested, the result would be violently explosive just before, during and following the general and presidential elections. Perhaps being very cognizant of the foregoing and considering the encouraging level of progress Liberia has made toward socio-economic and infrastructural developments, this is why Planning and Economic Affairs Minister Amara Konneh has embarked on a campaign of awareness and action by the Liberian opposition, media and ruling party.
Not for our country to submerge into the situations of neighboring Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya in the far east of the continent, the Minister is proposing a collaborative meeting or round-table of these stakeholders to discuss the issue of electoral violence and its prevention. It is an open fact that judging from where we’ve come, where we are and the future we have as a nation, it is important that we welcome the Miniter’s call not because of his present status, but his desire for us all to exert the necessary efforts to ensure the maintenance of peace and stability in our motherland.
While we do appreciate Minister Konneh’s initial suggestion for the Press Union to spearhead the process, it also our fervent hope that representatives of the Publishers Association, as well as the Editors Association and Station Managers will all jointly organize such meeting for mass attendance, sincerity and impact-making. This is because the groups are made up of individuals who are ‘gate-keepers—editors and managers who regulate all spoken and written materials released by those involved with the current game of politics in Liberia.
It is also our hope that the ruling and opposition parties will welcome the Minister’s proposal as a fine recipe for peace-building and state-building. The New Dawn’s support for the two-day collaborative meeting is against the backdrop of the recent negative role of the Liberian media in the exchanges between the opposition and ruling parties. We do harbor the belief that Mr. Konneh’s recommendation surfaced at the time we had thought that we, as media practitioners, needed to immediately halt the promotion of violence between the opposition and ruling parties, as well as among other individuals opting for political positions.
If the people of Liberia should succeed in holding free, transparent and peaceful elections, it would greatly depend on what we publish or broadcast, as well as when and how we do it. Our role must also be to distinguish between OPPOSITION and ENEMIES, as well as make POLITICS a responsible social discipline for Liberian politicians as it is in United States, Britain and elsewhere.
We urge all editors of the various newspapers and radio stations to see such collaborative efforts as advanced by Minister Amara Konneh as a way of exhibiting all that we are made of as professionals in directing the political destiny of our country come October or November without violence – and that is, to put in ‘all of our all’ to prevent violence before, during and after the general and presidential elections. May we express our appreciation to the Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs for such a rewarding thought, with the hope that his ministry will begin the process of engaging the leaderships of the Press Union, Publishers Association and Editors Association as a way of fast-tracking such effort.