United States Ambassador accredited to Monrovia Linda Thomas-Greenfield, last week Friday made a passionate call to Liberian political leaders, including presidential candidates to “publicly and openly denounce the use of any violence – now and for the future.”
Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield urged politicians to commit to a free and fair election on October 11, 2011. “Commit not to yourself, but to the people of Liberia and to your country. We will be here with you”, said the U.S. envoy when she commented on the outcome of the August 23 National Referendum. The Ambassador’s call for Liberians to conduct free, fair and violent free elections could not have come at a better time than now, as the country gears up for general and presidential elections, scheduled for next month.
The United States remains a historically strong partner of Liberia and its concerns should draw attention from all stakeholders of our body politics as the country sails on the democratic path. The upcoming elections are crucial in determining whether the gains achieved in the past six or eight years will be further strengthened.
Presidential and legislative aspirants are under obligation to advise their followers to take peace as a strong pillar in building a democratic nation where the rule of law, tolerance for divergent views and respect for fundamental human rights will be prioritized.
The American envoy said, “In the eight years since the end of fighting, the Liberian people continue to inspire and awe the world as they resist and reject the use of violence. We witnessed this on August 23 when the radio airwaves were dominated by allegations that the National Elections Commission (NEC) erred in the printing of the Proposition Two ballot. We heard the criticism all day into the next. But we were encouraged by what we saw – Liberians making their choices and voices heard at the ballot boxes.”
The outcome of the referendum clearly indicates that democratic expression void of bloody violence is the right path to tread in the new Liberia that we all envisioned. Our political disagreements or difference should be made known at the ballot box rather than by the barrel of the gun. The international community, particularly the United States of America had made enormous contributions to the present democratic atmosphere prevailing in Liberia and continues to make sacrifices to ensure that the country move ahead with peace, security and economic development.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf recently received dozens of American Peace Corps Volunteers at the Foreign Ministry in Monrovia, who have come to help build the capacity of Liberians in various sectors, including education and health. The Peace Corps Volunteers are expected to be deployed in public institutions around the country to assist the government in its institutional building efforts.
The efforts of our international partners can only be achieved here if we as a people would continue to behave in a responsible manner during these elections by in the words of Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, committing to “a free and fair election on October 11and publicly and openly” denouncing the use of violence now and in the future.