Ahead of the 2017 Presidential and Representatives’ elections, one of the presidential hopefuls, businessman Benoni Urey is warning that he and his All Liberia Party or ALP will resist any candidate who will use state’s resources and properties to campaign for votes.
Mr. Urey told a news conference hosted in his corporate office in Monrovia that there will be no option for candidates seeking the nation’s highest post to think about using state’s resources at the expense of other candidates.
Without mentioning names, Urey, a former head of Liberia’s Maritime program, recalled that in recent past elections, government officials contested, using state’s resources and went with impunity, but this time around, the Liberian people and political actors will not sit and allow such undemocratic act.
According to him, government officials took advantage of the situation on grounds that he was not actively involved in the electoral process. President Sirleaf has introduced a code of conduct for public officials, which among others, require appointed officials with desire to contest for elective posts to resign.
Commenting on the current board of commissioners of the National Elections Commission, ALP political leader expressed explicit confidence in the entire commission, adding that his trust will remain focus until authorities there can prove contrary.
Commenting on the recent arrest and subsequent indictment of self-proclaimed Vandalark Patricks, Urey said the arrest of Mr. Patricks coupled with events of the deaths of Harry Greaves, Cllr. Michael Allison and former GT Bank-Liberia former Managing Director Dan Orogun, no doubt are factors contributing to the already tense atmosphere.
According to him, the arrest of Mr. Patricks clearly shows the hypocrisy of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration, which was hailed internationally for signing the Table Mountain Declaration on July 21, 2012, the Noble Laureate head of state affirmed, “We are signing the Table Mountain Declaration in order to underscore our message loud and clear, to advance a free press and freedom of expression, not just in Liberia but the entire continent of Africa”, Mr. Urey quoted President Sirleaf.
He said the President signing the document automatically means decriminalization of speech and she also pledged to change criminal libel laws, adding that this is something that the Unity Party-led administration has failed to honor.
He maintained that instead of the President changing the libel and sedition laws on the books, she has done what every single government has done over the period of the state, including suppression of free speech in order to cover up its failures and shortcomings.
Mr. Urey said instead of President Sirleaf putting to rest some of the issues raised in Mr. Patricks’ speech, she is now unwittingly creating another civil society activist as a hero. He called on Liberians to remain loyal to the lofty principles of democracy that accept peaceful protest as a means of airing legitimate and sometimes illegitimate grievances.
“Democracy is not perfect. We cannot afford to seek to punish expression, no matter our politics. We must provide the space for peaceful protest and ensure that Liberians are able to air out challenges; it is not unrealistic that citizens might vent their frustrations through demonstrations,” he concluded. Edited by Jonathan Browne