By Ethel A Tweh
Liberia’s main opposition Unity Party (UP) has recounted some instances of electoral violence under the watch of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
The former ruling Unity Party detailed its observation about election violence when it joined other political parties and electoral stakeholders to sign the 2023 Farmington Declaration Tuesday, 4 April 2023.
They signed the commitment for a violence-free, credible, and transparent election for 2023.
At the ceremony, UP recalled how its partisan Cornelia Kruah-Togba was violently attacked in November 2018 by people believed to be CDC partisans.
Further, the UP recalled that on 17 August 2019, Montserrado Electoral District #15 representative candidate Ms. Telia Urey was attacked and her vehicle was burnt.
The former ruling party said many bi-elections have been spoiled by violence since President George Manneh Weah’s regime began.
UP political leader and former Liberian Vice President Amb. Joseph Nyumah Boakai said his party has observed electoral violence.
Recounting some instances of electoral violence under the CDC regime, Amb. Boakai said Ms. Cornelia Kruah-Togba was violently attacked by people believed to be CDC partisans while launching her campaign to replace then-Rep. Saah Joseph of District #13.
In that attack, Amb. Boakai said many were wounded. He added that Ms. Telia Urey was attacked and many of her supporters were wounded.
The Liberian statesman noted that all this was an attempt to instill fear in the supporters of Telia.
According to him, the 2020 Special Senatorial Election in Gbarpolu County was also marred by violence, adding that it has become a common practice in Liberia not to investigate electoral violence.
Ambassador Boakai indicated that no investigation was commissioned into any of these violent incidents and they were all left to slide under the umbrella of impunity.
“We still have the perpetrators roaming in the streets freely waiting for future orders to commit electoral violence repeatedly,” he added.
“The Unity Party, even more than our international partners and the NEC [National Elections Commission], want an election that will be free of any form of physical or emotional violence,” Boakai said.
“While we are all ensuring that the October 10, 2023 polls will be violence-free, fair, and transparent, we like to remind our partners and the NEC that the mere absence of violence is not the only requirement for a satisfactory election,” he cautioned.
Meanwhile, the Unity Party leader has called on the NEC to consider extending the registration process in the first six counties.
Amb. Boakai said the call is intended to make up for the delays and technical problems that have led to many not being able to register.
He stressed that the NEC’s failure to extend the time will be an act of deliberately disenfranchising Liberian citizens from participating in the elections.
The former VP named several issues he said have been reported since the start of the ongoing Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) process.
According to him, there are reports of the slowness of the registration process, and printers assigned to registration centers go off frequently. The UP leader continued that registration officers are reported of coming to work late and leaving early.
He outlined the frequent shortage of cards that are used to produce voter ID cards, adding that this is happening across several registration centers in Bomi, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Margibi, and Montserrado Counties.
He lamented that the length of time it takes the solar panel to generate power from the sun usually causes a delay to start the registration process.
These factors, Ambassador Boakai believes, are leading to a long stay in queues without registration of people who want to participate in the determination of the next leader of the country.
According to him, some have even hinted that they are tired and may not go to registration centers again. He said this is in the opinion of the Unity Party, discriminating against the voters.