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GeneralLiberia newsON 2ND THOUGHT

On 2nd Thoughts: Stop sending the wrong signal

By Othello B. Garblah

There is a proverbial saying that when “your Christmas will be good, you can tell from the early morning hours.” Thus, recent violent events which marred the opening days of campaign ahead of the October 10, 2023, Presidential and Legislative elections in Liberia no doubt signaled clear and present danger over the country.

The fact that these eruptions of violence are coming just on the heels of signing the Farmington Declaration by political parties and a peace deal by all presidential candidates at the National Elections Commissions Headquarters days before campaign kickoff speaks volumes of the level of commitments by political actors in this year’s election.

These actions draw parallel to the famous God Father movie in which Michael Corleone is, on one hand, being asked: “Do you accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Personal Savior-yes” and on the other side “pew, pew, and paw, paw, as he gunned down other family members. “Do you denounce violence, yes” and on the other side “Bang, bang”.

These early actions of violence if not corrected going forward could undermine the entire electoral process and plunge Liberia into another round of chaos which could reverse all gains made over the last two decades.

The National Elections Commission needs to be firmed in punishing political parties who are in violation of campaign rules no matter who is involved.

Why it is true that stakes in this year’s elections are high, violent provocations, intimidations, threats, spewing of invectives, and innuendos are not campaign messages, rather they are actions and instruments of anti-peace.

Like NEC, the media too need to play a critical role in ensuring that it tries as much as possible not to be engaged in airing or disseminating messages of anti-peace coming out of the mouth of politicians.

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Liberians have over the last 5 years heard all kinds of stories about politicians including the incumbent, they now want to listen to messages that can inform their decisions to vote right not provoke them into violence.

This election is about the future of Liberia and its people and should not be reduced to a personality or celebrity contest with supporters being unleashed to run amok.

Over the last 176 years, Liberia with all its rich natural resources is listed among the 10 poorest countries in the world and if not among the first three poorest countries in South Saharan Africa.

Mismanagement of the country’s resources, corruption, and poor leadership has left Liberia underdeveloped infrastructure-wise with one of the lowest per-human capital ratio.

According to a recent World Bank study, Liberia presents some of the worst HC outcomes in the world. Liberia’s Human Capital Index (HCI) is 0.32 (of a potential 1.0), which is one of the lowest values worldwide.

This means that a child born today in Liberia can be expected to be only 32% as productive when he/she grows up as they could have been if they had access to the benchmarks of complete education and full health.

The study further revealed that this low score means that many children in Liberia have their future limited by the circumstances in which they are born, but it also entails difficulties for the economic development of the country. These alarming statistics show why this election is very crucial.

Therefore, Liberians are eager to listen to concrete messages from politicians on how they can change the trajectory of the nation to deliver a positive outcome, not to hear rhetoric, threats, intimidation, and provocation of violence.

At 176, and with the kind of rich natural resources, Liberia should be a paradise and beacon of hope for Africa, with the rightful leadership, not a problem to its neighbors.

This is why it is expected that the violent events which characterized the first two weeks of campaign should be condemned by all regardless, instead of trading blame. NEC should ensure that parties comply with the campaign rules to avoid a repeat of two parties holding rallies in the same vicinity.

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