State actors including the Search for Common Ground team
The Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) Secretary General Jangar Kowo has assured international election monitoring groups that his party will not engage in acts that would undermine the 2017 elections.
Kowo said the CDC will uphold and abide by the elections and would ensure a violence free process.
Mr. Kowo made the statement at a one-day dialogue organized by the Search for Common Ground held under the theme: “Promoting Coordination across the Justice, Security and Political Sectors to ensure Effective early response to Election Violence”.
The dialogue brought together state actors including the Liberia Security Council, CDC, WANEP, NEC and Liberia National Police to discuss on ways to ensuring a violence free elections.
“The CDC believes that the time has come to govern Liberia and we have seen power in sight, so it’s in our interest to guide the peace process and to respect the laws of the elections,” Chief Scribe Kowo stressed.
Kowo noted that one of the early warnings that could spark violence in the run up to the elections was the election code of conduct; something he said should be taken seriously.
He said the code of conduct barred officials from the Executive from holding positions in political parties, adding that the Supreme Court doesn’t even need to have hearing on the matter because the law is clear.
It can be recalled that the CDC in the run up to the Nov. 8, 2011 run-off presidential stage a protest over elections irregularities and denounced the results thereof.
Protest staged by the party soon turned soar which led to the death of one of the party’s partisans.
For his part, Aaron Weah, Search for Common Ground Liberia Country Representative informed the gathering that his organization conducted baseline survey on early warning and early response in seven of the 15 counties.
He said the essence of the study was intended to understand the early warning architecture and the response mechanism needed in the country.
Target counties for survey included Montserrado, Margibi, G/Bassa, Bong, Lofa, Nimba and Grand Gedeh.
“What drove the survey mainly was the transition taking place in the country with regards to the UNMIL drawdown especially with a country that has experience election violence over the years,” SFCG Weah said.
Mr. Weah indicated that Liberia was transitioning for the first time in 70 years from one government to another, with the last recorded peaceful transition held in 1944 when President Edwin Barclay turned over to President William V.S Tubman. Liberia, he noted has never had a peaceful transition since then.
However, he said 22 self-evaluation surveys and 67 key informant interviews to assess early warning and early response architecture were held.
Respondents provided lengthy lists of potential triggers to elections violence such as provocative language, delays in announcing election results and busing in external bribed voters.
According to the survey, the respondents named stone throwing, property damage, vehicle burning, and agitation of youth for political purposes as some of the causes that led to elections violence in the past.
Weah said the respondents, during the survey said they don’t trust the police and don’t think the police have the capacity to respond without exacerbating the situation, particularly in light of UNMIL’s transition.