AFRICA/LIBERIA - "20 years after the agreements that put an end to the civil war, Liberians must remember the value of peace as they prepare to vote"

Thursday, 14 September 2023 elections   peace   local churches  

Monrovia (Agenzia Fides) - "Peace is one of the components we need in this country", said Rev. Fr. Dennis Cephas Nimene, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Liberia (CABICOL) regarding the presidential and legislative elections of October 10.
"Some of us are old enough to have seen what we went through in the past. At the time of elections, our peace is tested", referring to the two civil wars that devastated Liberia between 1989 and 2003.
The main candidates are incumbent president George Weah, of the Congress for Democratic Change, and Joseph Boakai, of the opposition Unity Party. If no candidate manages to collect at least 50% of the votes in the first round, a second round will be organized between the two leading candidates.
These elections coincide with the 20th anniversary of the peace agreements signed in Accra (Ghana) on August 18, 2003 which put an end to the bloody second Liberian civil war (1999-2003). Since then, Liberia has made progress on the path to peace and reconciliation. The successive elections of 2005, 2011 and 2017 took place peacefully and saw President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf elected in 2005 and then in 2011, alternating with the current Head of State, former footballer George Weah, elected in 2017. Weah's election raised immense hopes in Liberia, devastated first by the two civil wars of 1989 -1997 and 1999-2003 and then battered by the Ebola epidemic of 2014-2016. The country was just recovering when it was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, then by the consequences of the war in Ukraine. This is why there are fears of violence in the election campaign despite the Farmington River Declaration signed by all parties to promote peaceful elections. The Declaration guarantees a non-violent electoral process where political actors are aware of the need to maintain a peaceful environment before, during and after the 2023 presidential and general elections. "There will always be winners or losers in an election, but we should all remember that we are one Liberia. We must all be 'actors of peace,'" Father Nimene concluded. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 14/9/2023)