Despite the stern warning embedded in the report from the U.S. State Department with specified actions to be meted out against those who will interfere in the democratic (election) process through violence, repression and intimidation; Liberians who will also be going to the polls in December to elect 15 of 30 senators; already, violence and intimidation as well as electoral manipulations have begun to gradually creep in the electoral process as opposition figures are becoming weary of what they are terming as “State sponsored violence” directed at them, while the National Elections Commission (NEC) is being accused of engaging in fraudulent activities especially in regard to the voter roll update.
The US Secretary of State, Mr. Mike Pompeo in the report pledged his government’s commitment to supporting free, fair, inclusive elections on the African continent.
Secretary of State Pompeo said that the conduct of elections is important not only for Africans, but also for defenders of democracy around the world. “We believe all sides should participate peacefully in the democratic process. Repression and intimidation have no place in democracies,” he noted.
With these moves, which appear more proactive, the US government is resolved to no longer be passive in administering oversight responsibilities as the world super power, and now seem more proactive in safeguarding democratic values and tenets across the world, especially in parts of the world that adhere or practices the democratic form of government, Pompeo pointed out.
“The right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression and association are at the heart of a functioning democracy,” the US top Diplomat stated, adding that adherence to these democratic norms and the rule of law allows all citizens to engage in political dialogue and support their choice of candidates, parties, and platforms.
He continues, “we will watch closely the actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process and will not hesitate to consider consequences — including visa restrictions — for those responsible for election-related violence. As long-time partners to the nations of Africa, we care about the region’s democratic trajectory and are committed to working constructively with international and regional partners”.
Meanwhile, the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) and the pressure group, the Council of Patriots, are poised for a mass protest across the country.
The CPP and the COP have threatened to bring Monrovia to a standstill with sustained nationwide protests as a way of calling the attention of the international community and the government to fraudulent moves that are made by the NEC in favor of the regime.
CPP said in a press release on Thursday, October 8, 2020 that it will begin a sustained nationwide protest beginning 28th October to bring to government and international partners’ attention several ills in the Liberian society, including willful irregularities on the ongoing voter registration process.
“This decision,” the CPP said, “Came out of Wednesday’s press conference after flagging series of irregularities of the electoral process ahead of the December 8 senatorial midterm election.”
This protest, according to the CPP, will continue until demands which include but are not limited to cleaning the Voter Roll, canceling and properly re-doing the just ended “fraudulent” voter roll update and other issues of national concern affecting the lives of the people, are addressed.
“This decision comes at a time when our country is on a path of imminent decay as our systems fail us. We cannot overemphasize the importance of having free, fair and credible elections. We cannot overemphasize the importance of protecting your votes and ensuring that your voices are heard at the ballot box. A fraudulent and rigged election could be detrimental to our peace and stability.”
“Therefore,” the release continued, “We have begun engaging other political parties, pressure groups, civil society organizations, etc. to join the CPP to protect our votes and fight for free, fair and transparent elections. We call on all Liberians, home and abroad, to join this effort to mandate the government and its NEC to implement our demands in order to protect your votes and rescue the country from further decline.”
The COP, in a separate statement, said that it will begin its strike actions Monday, November 16, 2020 and will continue until its burning issues are addressed by the George Weah Administration. Addressing a press conference in Monrovia on October 8, COP Secretary General, Mulbah Yorgbor, listed a series of counts that have triggered its anger.
Yorgbor spoke about the unresolved US$25 million said to be for mob up exercise; the government’s failure to pay health workers, the fraudulent just ended voter roll update exercise and its implications on the pending senatorial election, and the wave of violence against peaceful citizens by the Liberia National Police and people believed to be loyalists of the ruling CDC.
He also touched on the worsening economic crisis in the country and its accompanied hardship on the lives of Liberians, the unexplained failure of the controversial COVID-19 stimulus package; the consistent abuse of the Liberian Constitution and disregard for the rule of law.
The increase by more than one hundred percent on voice and data communication services as instituted by GSM companies on Thursday morning, October 8, made a place among COP’s counts.
“Finally, the recent grave passport scandal that saw top government officials selling our passports and conferring upon anyone who can pay for our prestigious diplomatic honors are parts of our counts for which we will be protesting.”
Yorgbor noted that the COP officially notified the country’s international partners, especially ECOWAS, the U.S. Embassy and the E.U. Delegation about the pending mass citizens’ action. “We will also officially write the Minister of Justice, requesting security protection for our people who will be coming out from several locations across the country beginning November 16, 2020,” he added.
Pompeo also observed that the 2019 Nigerian election, which triggered the ban on influential officials of that country, was described as an opaque one marred by delays, intimidation and violence. Situation Room, a Nigerian civil society group of local election observers, reported that about 47 people on February 23, on presidential Election Day died.
According to him, some deaths were caused by clashes between rival political groups or over allegations of vote fraud. The statement from the US’ Secretary of State comes at a time when reports of electoral violence are rife in the West African regions as unconstitutional maneuverings and intimidations are ongoing for incumbents and other politicians to retain power. Countries that are poised to go to the polls include Ivory Coast, Guinea and Ghana.
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