By Othello B. Garblah
The parade with a casket bearing images of Unity Party’s Standard Bearer Amb. Joseph N. Boakai by a group of youths from the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) at the start of campaigns for the 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections on Saturday, August 5 was provocative-plain and simple.
This action which came just days after the 20 presidential candidates vying for the nation’s highest office signed their commitment to peaceful campaigns is worth condemning by all peace-loving Liberians in the strongest term no matter which side of the political divide one belongs to.
Campaigns are about winning hearts and minds through debates and selling messages through organized rallies to woo potential voters not engaging in provocations or anti-peaceful activities for conflicts and chaos.
There are no doubts that the stakes of this 2023 presidential and legislative elections are high, but this does not warrant acts of hooliganism and other vices that would question its outcome and drag its credibility in the mud.
What Liberians hope to see over the next two and half months is a rush by candidates to showcase their platforms and visions for the country not engaging in acts that would undermine the electoral process and bring the country to its knee.
Election campaigns should be conducted based on mutual respect, constructive debates, and peaceful rallies, not through acts of violence, intimidation, and incitements, which are all recipes for the breakdown of law and order- chaos. And the CDC of all parties should not be found wanting to send such a message.
Therefore, leaders of the CDC including incumbent President George Weah should stand up and condemn such a disgraceful act by a handful of partisans who are projecting their noble party as a group of provocateurs, who desire nothing else but pandemonium.
Such condemnation should be done in the strongest term with deterrence for any other group both within the CDC and any other political party whose followers think that provocations are the best scrips for campaigners.
Let the CDC zealots and any other group that may be thinking in similar direction be reminded that over the years, Liberians have thrived to solidify the country’s democracy and have done so through peaceful elections.
Through that commitment, Liberians have witnessed the transfer of power from one government to another. This 2023 election should not under no circumstances be manipulated to reverse such significant gain.
This election, like the ones before it, should be conducted based on the principles of democratic values which promote inclusivity, unity in diversity and echo the will of the people.
The ability to agree to disagree is what promotes peaceful exchange of ideas through debates, while still respecting the other party regardless of their views-this is what peaceful campaign is all about.
Let these CDC zealots and their likes be reminded of unfolding events in the sub-region and why it is imperative that Liberians go through this electoral process void of reasons that would undermine the integrity of the polls.
This election is also a litmus test for the ruling CDC, which has much to lose in this process than the rest of the 19 political parties combine and, therefore, is under obligation to ensure the transparency of the process.