Last Thursday’s (August 10, 2023) bloody clash between rival supporters of opposition Candidate Joseph Nyumah Boakia of the Unity Party (UP) and the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) in Electoral District#9, Montserrado County left zealous youth wounded in a campaign for the October 10th elections was totally unwarranted. No Liberian or partisan of a political party has to die or has to be disfigured just for the love of a candidate.
After it all, we Liberians have to coexist as one nation whether members of a winning party or losing parties. And there will be many losing parties as only but one out of the 20 candidates in the race, including incumbent President Weah will be declared winner either in the first or second round.
So why do we inflict injuries on one another during campaigns for the sake of rival candidates? Do Liberians have to go to such extreme to demonstrate love and loyalty for a particular candidate? We think not.
As LPP’s Presidential Candidate Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe has pointed out, political campaign should not be about enmity, but competition of ideas, ideas of how our candidates or candidates of our choice intend to improve the nation and all of its people, not only partisans, if elected President or member of the legislature.
However, the violence that transpired on August 10th in District #9 barely five or six days into the campaign was not only unfortunate but highly disappointing especially, after political parties’ leaders and candidates had expressed before the citizenry and international partners their commitment to violence-free elections.
Sadly also, we did not see leadership demonstrated at the highest level of the political parties that were involved in the clashes except denial by the ruling CDC and threats from the opposition UP that it would use every means at its disposal for self-defense.
We think that was below the belt. Both the incumbent administration and those desiring leadership should exercise tolerance and maturity in responding to crisis, which is one of the marks of good leadership.
In our wisdom, all that was needed is for leaders of the two parties, thank God, they both have served our country at the highest level – President Weah being at the helm of power for six years and is seeking a second term and Amb. Boakai, who had served as Vice President for 12 years and wants to come to the presidency.
So why was it so difficult in calling their respective followers and supporters to order, that citizens had to suffer wounds? Why was it so difficult for both leaders to call each other before coming out? Campaign should not be about enmity, but in Liberia, dare say Africa, this is what it is.
There is yet a long way to go, as campaign is officially expected to end on October 8, 2023, for Elections Day on October 10th. The denial and the threat coming from both sides are sending wrong signals to the electorate and creating fear in the entire population of the kind of canvassing to expect, one mar by terror and blood perhaps, as we go to the polls, which is absolutely unwarranted.