Liberia: U.S. Demands Free, Fair, Peaceful Election

-Warns of further sanctions if…

As Liberians go to the poll on October 10th to elect their leaders, the United States Government reiterates call for the Government of Liberia to conduct fair, free, and peaceful elections, and hold accountable, those that would attempt to disrupt the process.

The U.S. says it is prepared to assist in efforts to keep the pending elections free, fair and peaceful by holding accountable anyone who would want to undermine the democratic process in Liberia through additional sanctions.

Hosting a news conference Wednesday, September 6, 2023, the ChargĂ© d’ Affairs at the Embassy of the United States near Monrovia, Catherine Rodriguez’s said officials must also ensure that the

Government of Liberia invests adequate money, personnel, and organizational resources to protect its citizens, candidates, polling stations, and election workers from intimidation or harm.

Ms. Rodriguez’s notes that the eyes of the world are focused on the pending elections and how they are managed.

“The United States, as a longstanding partner of Liberia, along with the international community, has been working closely with the NEC (National Elections Commission) to make sure that all election observers have full access to polling stations during election day, as well as access to the vote tallying”, she adds.

Ms. Rodriguez’s reveals that the U.S. Embassy through USAID is directly supporting both international and domestic election observer missions here, as well as their own mission observing the election process across Liberia.

“The United States is also prepared to assist in efforts to keep these elections free, fair, and peaceful by holding accountable anyone responsible for engaging in activities to undermine the democratic process in Liberia through additional measures such as sanctions”, she assures.

Meanwhile, she announced the return of 12 Peace Corps volunteers to Liberia to work in the education and health sectors, as the first volunteers to return after the worldwide evacuation of volunteers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Madam Rodriquez’s adds that she also had the opportunity to visit Mount. Coffee hydropower plant under Liberian management, which she notes, is a testament to enduring relationship between both governments.

The United States Government recently announced visa restriction for Sierra Leoneans attempting to undermine the June 2023 Presidential Election in Sierra Leone.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, who made announcement, explained that the new visa restriction policy is under Section 212(a)(3)C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, targeting those involved in undermining the democratic process in the June 2023 Sierra Leone election.

“Under this policy, the United States will pursue visa restrictions for those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Sierra Leone, including through the manipulation or rigging of the electoral process; intimidation of voters, election observers, or civil society organizations through threats or acts of physical violence; or the abuse or violation of related human rights in Sierra Leone”, he announced in a statement issued on Thursday, 31 August.

According to Secretary of State Blinken, the visa restriction policy will apply to specific individuals and is not directed at Sierra Leoneans generally, noting that this decision reflects the commitment of the United States to support Sierra Leoneans’ aspirations to have free and fair elections that demonstrate the will of the people and strengthen democracy and the rule of law.

He adds that family members of such persons may also be subjected to these restrictions and that persons who undermine the democratic process in Sierra Leone, including in the lead-up to, during, and following the June 2023 elections may be found ineligible for U.S. visas under this policy.

Last week, Liberia’s international partners, including ECOWAS and the United Nations, issued a joint statement here, raising concern over recent reports of election violence, urging Liberian authorities to investigate and hold those responsible to account, while appealing to all Liberians to safeguard gains of the hard-won peace.

“We bring attention to inflammatory rhetoric which has the potential to instigate violence. We therefore urge political leaders to be active peace messengers and promote issue-based campaigns and refrain from incitement of followers toward violent action, especially violence against women in elections and politics and, to resolve any grievance through established legal mechanisms. We further caution against the instrumentalization of the youth”, the joint statement issued on 31 August reads.

It said as Liberia commemorates 20 years of unbroken peace, the International Community in Liberia wants signatories of the Farmington River Declaration 2023 to abide by their commitment and promote the conditions for peaceful, transparent, and credible elections, prior, during and after the polls.

The Joint Statement comes barely a month and few days to the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections in which 20 candidates, including incumbent President George Weah and a female, are vying for the Presidency. Editing by Jonathan Browne


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