Next week Tuesday (July 5, 2011) politicians and registered political parties throughout the country will receive greenlight from the National Elections Commission to commence campaign for the ensuing general and presidential elections. This process would provide Liberians another opportunity to examine the candidates based on the contents of their various platforms and how they intend to achieve them if elected.
However, the approach the electorate, aspirants and parties will take in the coming months leading to actual polling day will crucially determine whether or not the democracy that all of us have fought for during the 14-year civil crisis will be sustained. This is very important because as a nation we should not allow this opportunity to be reversed.
This why we welcome wholeheartedly the statement released Wednesday by the Press Union of Liberia, cautioning Liberians that these elections will test the strength of our current democracy and stability here. As the statement reminded, we all are aware of the consequences of electoral violence – given the fresh memories from the Ivorian crisis, and recently in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Liberia is already on the path to consolidating the peace achieved in the last seven years in order to move ahead with development and economic stability. But the approach that we will take during these campaigns will determine whether this country will remain cohesive.
The electorate should be reminded that an enjoyable campaign requires demonstrating political maturity and tolerance. You may disagree with a particular party or candidate but allow the peaceful exchange of views, keeping in mind that Liberia is the only common denominator that binds us as a people.
Already, there is report of fear of electoral violence in Sinoe County following allegations of pre-campaign activities by several parties, including the ruling Unity Party. The NEWDAWN is still investigating this development. The point we want to drive home here is that Liberians should use this electioneering period to examine the gains achieved since the last elections in 2005 in order to build upon them no matter who’s elected finally.
Parties or candidates may come and go, but Liberia should and must survive so that the next generation of citizens can have the opportunity to live in peace and unity to pursue and achieve their full potentials.
This is why we believe it is important that Liberians conduct themselves in the most civilized manner if you may, during the upcoming elections not only to maintain our integrity intact, but to continue to win the trust of our international partners who have given so much to sustain our peace and democracy.