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Liberian journalists commit to support peaceful elections

Journalists returning from a two-day ECOWAS Engagement with the Liberian Media have signed an eight-count joint resolution here, committing to writing, publishing and broadcasting common editorials in their respective media outlets on matters that are critical to free, fair and peaceful elections in Liberia come October 10th, 2023.

They also agreed to ensure that electorates in Liberia are well-informed through robust voter education and dissemination of messages through their respective platforms to ensure that citizens understand candidates’ and political parties’ manifestos, campaigns, and polling day procedures ahead of the elections.

Participants of the two-day engagement came from diverse sections of the media in Liberia, including print, broadcast and online platforms, pledging to maintain a high standard of professionalism, objectivity and impartiality in their coverage and reportage, especially during and after the electioneering period, as well as to broadcast and report news in such a manner that will undermine the ordinary Liberian’s fundamental human rights, and shall not encourage the propagation of fake news, inflammatory statements and hate media practices.

“That we consciously agree to work against becoming channels and conduits for publication and broadcasting of materials that can inflame passions, incite violence, promote hate or threatens the freedom of others to participate peacefully in the elections process”, the joint resolution further reads.

 They pledge to diligently and professionally monitor all aspects of the electoral process, across the country with a view to ensuring that all actors in the elections act in accordance with established laws, regulations and international best practices on electioneering processes.

A total of 28 journalists from various media organizations, including state radio and the private media signed the resolution Tuesday, September 19, 2023, at close of the engagement in Monrovia.  

Earlier on Monday, the Resident Representative of the President of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia, Madam Josephine Nkrumah, said the world looks to Liberia to showcase its growing democracy in the impending Presidential and General Elections slated for October 10th.

Madam Nkrumah notes that misinformation and disinformation pose serious threats to democracy, as they have become instruments that can be used to manipulate public opinion, sow discord, and undermine the electoral process.

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“The debilitating impact of misinformation and disinformation on elections can be seen in a number of recent elections around the world, particularly within our region, where lives were lost, properties destroyed, and the credibility of elections compromised. We have had four coups from post-election conflicts in the sub-region and Liberia must stem the tide”, she emphasized.

Liberians go to elections in October, which will be the third since the end for hostility in 2023, but the first without the presence of international peacekeepers. Story by Jonathan Browne

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