Internal Affairs Minister encourages peaceful elections as the government and its partners launch a peacebuilding project
Monrovia, Liberia; 16 December 2022: Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf is urging Liberians to remain peaceful and calm during the upcoming 2023 elections. Minister Sirleaf said Liberia is proud to have conducted three post-conflict elections which have witnessed the peaceful transfer of power and it was important that the country continues on that trajectory to maintain durable and sustainable peace, reconciliation, and social cohesion.
Speaking when he officially launched a UN Peace Building Fund (PBF) support project on “Peaceful Electoral Environment & Community Security in Liberia,” on 14 December 2022 in Monrovia, Minister Sirleaf stressed that violent free, transparent, and inclusive elections remain critical to sustaining Liberia’s hard-won peace and it requires national ownership of the process, respect for the rule of law, each other’s rights and political opinions, building public trust and confidence, forging partnerships and demonstrating a commitment to smooth and peaceful transition of power.
The project, he said, adds value to the electoral process as it seeks to address the problems associated with peaceful elections using early warning & response mechanisms before, during and after elections.
“The project will complement Government’s efforts to strengthen peace and security, and the consolidation of our democracy by ensuring that the country experiences inclusive, transparent, credible, and peaceful elections in 2023. I am encouraged by the fact that the project will strengthen the participation of vulnerable groups especially youth which make up 60 percent of Liberia’s population that are often prone to manipulations to cause violence, as well as women and people living with disabilities.
With the continued marginalization of women and youth in the political process, the United Nations in Liberia wants to see a credible, transparent, and inclusive elections process that affords women the space, security and empowerment required for them to compete in the political space and feel safe to participate.
The UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Liberia Stephen Rodriques at the launching ceremony also reiterated the role of youth in the elections process.
“Young people are the future of the country and have the capacity to be productive and to transform Liberia if provided with the right resources, support, and opportunities. Unfortunately, they are often manipulated to foment violence during elections and discarded thereafter,” Rodriques stressed.
Mr. Rodriques noted that with the peacebuilding project, the United Nations (UN) together with the government and civil society intends to engage youth and integrate them into community policing mechanisms so that they can interface with law enforcement agencies to undertake effective early warning and responses on electoral conflict.
He expressed confidence in the ability of the National Elections Commission to administer transparent elections and urged politicians and political parties to do their part by desisting from misinforming the public, engaging constructively in monitoring the electoral process, and using the court system to resolve disagreements.
Also making remarks at the ceremony, the Swedish Ambassador to Liberia Urban Sjöström emphasized that 2023 remains critical to Liberia’s development and prosperity in continuing the path to sustainable peace following three consecutive elections. Ambassador Sjöström wants all political parties in the elections process to adhere to the Violence Against Women In Elections (VAWIE) document that gives women the political space to compete and urged them to use the rule of law to address any grievances.
The Co-chair of the National Elections Commission Counselor P. Teplah Reeves and Attorney Massa Jallabah of the Ministry of Justice also expressed commitment to ensuring a credible and transparent electoral process and pleaded with political groups and communities to adhere to peaceful elections.
The two-year peacebuilding project is supported by the United Nations Peace Building Fund and is jointly implemented by UNDP Liberia, IOM Liberia, United Nations Human Rights Office in Liberia in partnership with the National Elections Commission of Liberia, Liberia Peace Building Office and the Liberia National Police.
It is aimed at creating a peaceful electoral environment by supporting interventions on conflict prevention and mitigation of widespread insecurity, human rights violations, and electoral violence before, during, and after elections in Liberia.
The interventions will also allow for political competition, participation, legitimacy as well as support training and capacity development of state security apparatus, CBOs, media, and other actors.