“Hate speech” undermines Liberia’s peace

As Liberians await the November 7th runoff presidential election, politicians here have dangerously embarked on making wide allegations and spewing hate messages, particularly at outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, among other things, accusing her of manipulation and favoring a particular candidate.

The ruling Unity Party, and the opposition Liberty Party and the All Liberian Party jointly claim the President interfered and influenced outcome of the October 10th Presidential and Representatives Elections, but the Office of the President denies.

A statement read by Presidential Press Secretary Matthew J. Piah, states unequivocally that these allegations are completely baseless, and are an unfortunate attempt by agent provocateurs to undermine Liberia’s democratic process.

The name-calling and direct attacks would have been treated as normal and expected in an emotionally charged political contest like ours, had it not been led by the President’s own governing Unity Party. The UP, which is going for the runoff against the Coalition for Democratic Change, joins the two opposition parties in claiming they have been cheated. They blame Madam Sirleaf for the alleged act.

As if this were not enough, the airwaves and social media are being saturated with barrage of claims and mudslinging against the President with her Vice President, Joseph Nyumah Boakai, now Standard Bearer of the UP, sitting at the top of these inflammatory campaigns.

The situation led the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia, an inter-faith group to issue a statement here on Monday, 30 October calling on the aggrieved parties to adhere to the Farmington Declaration they signed up to, and go to the runoff poll next week, shucking violence.

We join President Sirleaf in calling on all parties in the ongoing political process to refrain from utterances and actions that have the propensity to incite Liberians and undermine the peace and stability of the country as we all go to the ballot box next week and even thereafter.

Specifically, we challenge VP Boakai and the UP that he leads to demonstrate the “Think Liberia, Love Liberia and Build Liberia” slogan they preach by condemning all hate speeches and inciting languages that do not only have the propensity to undermine their political dreams and aspirations, but revert this country to its ugly past.

The democratic process should remain on course to ensure a peaceful political transition that all Liberians would be proud of, including winners and losers. In other words, the real winner at the end of the day will be Liberia, our common patrimony.

Whoever wins the runoff on November 7th needs the peace that we currently enjoy, not only to exercise political leadership, but to move on with economic development and prosperity, the dream of every citizen.

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