River Gee County – In the wake of external and internal agitation occurring amongst officials and supporters of political parties in River Gee County, the National Elections Commission, on September 27, held a one-day consultative dialogue to mitigate any potential tension.
During the dialogue, a five-member committee was set-up and charged with the responsibility of developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for political parties to ensure campaign activities and messages are violence-free.
The MOU reads: “We the undersigned political parties, candidates, chairpersons, spokespersons, and campaign managers in River Gee have agreed to run a non-violent campaign. Messages should be based on parties’ platform and not personality. Any violation of the above by supporters of political parties and candidates will be dealt with in accordance with the election laws of the Republic of Liberia.”
Some participants expressed reservations about the part of the agreement that mentions “political parties would be held responsible for any violence that would be carried out by supporters”.
They argued that it would be “difficult and unfair to align an individual with a political party as there are unscrupulous people who might want to tarnish the image of a party or candidate”.
Asked Marcus S. Quenneh of Liberty Party during the meeting: “What criteria will be used to identify an individual as a supporter of a particular candidate or party?”
After exchanges of comments and views, 10 out of the 11 political parties attending the meeting designated their respective representative to sign the MOU.
The Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) declined to participate in the signing.
According Chris Cole, CDC’s River Gee County chapter chairman, he was mandated not to sign the agreement.
“I spoke with my immediate boss from Monrovia and he told me not to sign any document that has not been perused by the party executives,” Cole said.
Earlier, Gbeye Synyenlentue, the NEC county magistrate, admonished party officials to engage each other respectfully when putting forth their views.
Mr. said the commission, with the support of its partners, developed media messages and hired civic voters educators to carry out awareness on the significance of violent-free campaign during the Campaign Period.
“We have put in measures to ensure that this election is conducted without violence; however, it also the responsibility of party officials to continually remind their supporters and sympathizers to refrain from personal attacks on their opposition,” said Synyenlentue.
He informed political players in the county to submit names of poll watchers at voting precincts.
“Political parties and candidates must send poll watchers who are registered at the center they are going to work. No person will be allowed to cast their vote at a precinct that does not have their name,” he said.
Many people in the county are hopeful that as the Election Day draws closer, candidates will exert all efforts to remain committed to the election guideline as well other relevant rules to avoid pre or post-election violence.
Reported By: Tenneh Subah-Kamara