Last week’s reported violence between rival youth of the governing Unity Party and the opposition Alternative National Congress in Montserrado County Electoral District#17 over alleged tearing down of campaign banners and posters is not only scaring, but counter-productive to achieving violent-freed elections in Liberia.
Rival youths reportedly attacked one another after an overzealous supporter of ANC representative candidate Abraham Sesay allegedly tore campaign banners and posters of the governing UP candidate Hanson Kiazolu in district#17.
Though Police moved into the district and subsequently arrested and charged key actors from both sides, the violence brings into sharp focus what may lie ahead of the October 10th elections if concerted efforts were not taken now to ensure a peaceful electoral process.
Reports of the tearing down of banners and posters mainly by supporters of rival candidates have been flying across the country for some time. For instance, in Bong County, Central Liberia one candidate for legislative seat went to court after he accused a rival in a particular district of being behind the tearing down of his posters and banners.
Here in Montserrado County and parts adjacent, including Monrovia, similar cries have been heard with warning from both authorities at the National Elections Commission and the Liberia National Police for the public to desist from such habit.
But it appears that those involved in such sinister behavior are not heeding the warning as the practice persists unabated, sending a negative image of the entire electoral process, specifically the current campaign exercises across the country.
Those so-called candidate supporters involved in this act should be told in no uncertain term that this is not the way to express or demonstration love for a political party or candidate in these elections. These current steps are solely intended to take us back to the dark days of bloody violence and war.
Certainly, no well-meaning Liberian would want this nation to retrogress after the nearly 15 years of civil war that devastated this entire country and left hundreds of thousands of our fellow compatriots dead, while hundreds of thousands others were displaced and became refugees across the subregion.
We challenge leaders of political parties to take the lead in consciencetizing their partisans, supporters and sympathizers to desist from tearing posters and banners of rival parties and candidates’ as this does not win elections, but instigate violence.
We as Liberians owe it to ourselves and to posterity to make sure the current peace we enjoy that has created a democratic space for political transition does not slip from our hands. We would not only disappoint ourselves by doing so, but also disappoint our friends from the international community, who sacrificed with their blood and money and continue to sacrifice so that Liberia can survive.