We have witnessed elections in various African Countries and the world at large. We all followed the election that brought the current Gambian president to power.
I assume we are all cognizant of the negotiations that were made in order to keep the Gambia and Gambians safe from electoral violence when their former president Yayah Jammeh refused to step down as president. The Gambian scenario is a clear manifestation on how violence can never be the solution of any nation that is economically challenged like Liberia. But peace, negotiation, and mutual understanding can serve as the solution of any economic challenged democracy like ours.
If the Gambian scenario cannot serve as a testimony on how peace is important in our modern day realities, than let us retrospect on the election that brought the incumbent president of the federal Republic of Nigeria to power in 2015.That election was to be held early February, but due to few reasons that were best known to the Election commission of Nigeria, it was prolonged to the 28th of March 2015 and subsequently extended the voting to next day which was on the 29th of March 2015 because of the huge population of the country. Nigeria remains the most populated country in Africa with 186 million people. The continuous delay and prolonging of the election did not inspire the Nigerians to get involve in electoral violence because they believe violence will never serve as the solution to their problems they face as a nation and people.
They were very observant and cognizant about their loss if they were to get involve in electoral violence. They were civil and rejected their former president Good luck Jonathan who they think were not in their country and people interest on the ballot box and voted their current president Muhammad Buhari to power. That election was the first time ever a sitting president in Nigeria lost election to an opposition since the end of its military rule in 1999. But we all saw how love for country triumph hate for country.
If you are still in doubt on why we should avoid and stay away from electoral violence in this critical period of our country history, take a reflection on our sister West African count Ghana. Take a sober reflection on the election that brought president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to power. He defeated John Dramani Mahama who was then the incumbent president of Ghana.
Before that election in Ghana, the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD) conducted a survey asking the citizens if they were satisfied and had trust in their Electoral Commission. When that survey was conducted in July 2016, they accumulated the percentage of 58 saying that they had trust and confidence in their Electoral Commission. And lately in October before going to the ballot casting pool to elect their new president, they conducted another survey to see if their population were still had trust in their Electoral Commissions. Upon the completion of that survey, the percentage of the trust and confidence has increased to 73 in support of the electoral commission.
If all those peaceful African transitions cannot serve as sufficient means to embrace peace, then let us retrospect on the election that brought former president George W. Bush to prominence as president. In that election his opposition Al Gore got more votes than him, but lost the election to former president Bush. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Bush that led him to become the 43rd president of the United States of America. When the American Supreme Court gives her final ruling, the America didn’t term the Court as an unfair and unjust court, but they all respected the ruling of the highest decision making in their Country.
Now, back to our country Liberia. In recent time we saw the tearing of political aspirant photos and the destructions of campaign materials that belongs to some political contenders by some individuals who are not in the interest of those aspirants. I believe it is unfair to the efforts of those aspirants who are spending their resources and hard earnings behind their campaigns. We as Liberians need to discourage all acts that will hinder our infant democracy. We need to go in various communities, slumps and ghettoes to discourage this unpatriotic act. We need to respect our opponent’s views and political affiliations in order to have a peaceful and fruitful political transition.
Peace cannot be kept by force but it can only be achieve by collective cooperation and mutual understanding along with consistence dialogues. The election and campaign may come and go, but the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just one political party is a must. We need to think beyond 2017 and think on how we will construct good and sustainable roads, improve our health care and delivery system, improve our education system, build bridges, provide electricity within the 15 political subdivision of our counties, reduce the escalating fees of school tuition, improve the budget of anti-graph institutions, increase the budget of our military and civil society servants, protect women and girls from sexual and gender based violence, provide protection for all children regardless of your ability or disability, enact anti-domestic violence laws, revamp our economic sector in order to attract foreign investment and many more as a nation.
But all this can only be achieve if we as a people and nation come together under one umbrella and March for peace through our actions and deeds within this critical period of our county’s history. We will only realize this if we all say no to electoral violence. And I believe with the intelligence of our people we will achieve this.
Working along with the Liberian National Police (LNP) and other security institutions will also help us have a smooth political transition. The role of the media institutions is paramount in our peaceful coexistence as people. The neutrality of our religious council is also significant in the peaceful transition of our nation.
Let us be the ambassadors of peace during this critical period of our country’s political history.
By Abdurahman Jalloh