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27 Political Parties Recommit To Farmington Declaration

By Alex Yomah
Twenty seven out of 31 political parties have united to commit to peaceful, transparent, and credible elections in Liberia built on the foundation of the initial pledge signed in 2017.
Ahead of Liberia’s presidential and legislative elections in October 10, 2023, the political parties through their leaders agreed to resolve any dispute though legal means.
On April 4, at the Farmington Hotel in Margibi the political parties signed the Farmington River Declaration 2023, an enhanced and comprehensive declaration, designed to ensure a nonviolent electoral process.
yesterday’s signing ceremony was organized under auspices of the National Elections Commission (NEC), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations (UN).
President George Weah attended and signed as a political leader and standard bearer of the Coalition for Democratic Change affixing his signature to ensuring to a peaceful and credible elections.
The UN and ECOWAS signed the agreement as witnesses on half of the United Nations, Ms. Giovani Biha, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Acting Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), signed the agreement. Also signing was Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, president of ECOWAS Commission on behalf of ECOWAS.
The Farmington peace pledge obliges signatories and their supporters to uphold the principles of peaceful elections and respect and rule of law.
The UN, ECOWAS, and international partners continue to reiterate the importance and centrality of peaceful elections to Liberia’s stability and prosperity.
The upcoming elections in October, the fourth in the country since 2003, coincide with Liberia 20 years of peace and this pivotal moment serves to reinforce progress towards sustainable peace and democracy. The Farmington River Declaration 2023 is a strong commitment to prevent potential instances of violence, including violence against women during the electoral process.
By signing this declaration, the nation’s political have displayed their resolve to ensure peaceful elections in 2023, with the International Community fully committed to supporting their efforts.
President George Weah called on his compatriots including leaders of political parties and their supporters, likewise the wider electorates who follow them and to also adhere to the spirit of the Farmington River Declaration which was signed before God and the global community yesterday.
He said as political parties, they support different causes and interests; there is one cause that must bring everyone together, in spite of their differences, and that is the cause of maintaining the peace of the country.
The ceremony was witnessed by members of both local and international communities including former President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf; VP Jewel Howard-Taylor; Speaker and Members of the National Legislature; Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court.
Weah continued that he was not only referring to political parties and stakeholders who were present during yesterday signing ceremony but Liberians who have the obligation to ensure that they do not reverse the gains that have been made.
According to him, rhetoric that whips up old divisions and puts tribes and regions against one another must be discouraged adding, “We as political leaders must have a duty and responsibility to prevail on all of the members within the ranks of our various institutions to desist from actions that could lead to violence.”
“These vices must be discouraged by all of us. In this regard, the media and civil society organizations have a crucial role to play, and he is glad that they were represented during yesterday because they are very important partners in the process,” he noted.
Weah then used the occasion to urge all stakeholders who have vested interest in the October elections to void incendiary language and that he perceives to be growing culture of militancy, which can have the propensity to quickly spill over into violence.
He believes that the promotion of the shared responsibility of all stakeholders in the country stating that they are therefore expected to play their respective roles appropriately and effectively.
While Amb. Boakai on behalf of UnityParty reminded the gathering that it was at the same venue commitment to a non-violent election was signed in 2017 thereby reporting that the 2017 Legislative and Presidential elections under the auspices of the Unity Party led government were largely free of any major violent incident and one the most acclaimed transfer of power occurred.
He said, too often political leaders ignore, neglect and in some cases become complicit with the outcome of the process rather than the actual process itself noting that elections is not an event but a process which must not be merely observed but monitored over a period of time to offer what will eventually advance peace, consolidate democratic entitlements and good governance
He remarked that since the assumption of leadership by President Weah and the CDC, Liberians have witnessed several bi-elections that have been marred by violence stating that all this was an attempt to instill fear in the supporters.
“It has become a common practice in Liberia not to investigate electoral violence. No investigation was commissioned into any of these violent incidents and were all left to slide under the umbrella of impunity. We still have the perpetrators roaming in the streets freely waiting for future orders to commit electoral violence repeatedly,’ he expressed.
The Unity Party’s political leader said the mere absence of violence is not the only requirement for a satisfactory election reiterating that even more than the international partners and the NEC, the UP wants an election that will be free of any form of physical or emotional violence.
“There are other cardinal ingredients that when not considered and not implemented, there will be a high probability of not having a so much violent free election as we are all yearning to have. Together with our international partners and mainly the government, we must ensure that these elections are credible and in addition monitor the indicators that would lead to the election not being credible, free, fair, transparent and non-violent,’ Boakai emphasized.
He said, ‘It is, therefore, of key importance that we emphasize and prevent the triggers of violence rather than just stating that ‘we want violence free elections.”
The UP leader said it would appear like the government does not care about reforming the electoral process but the National Elections Commission is not the only institution involved with our elections therefore it is also critical to mention the role of the Judiciary in expeditiously and lawfully concluding elections disputes, to ensure peaceful elections and discourage violence.
He also mentioned that as political leaders affix signatures to the Farmington River Declaration thus pledging commitment a peaceful Legislative and Presidential elections, the Unity Party calls on the NEC to consider extending the registration process in the first six counties.
He then extended thanks and appreciation to the United Nations, ECOWAS and all those International and local partners, and all political parties that affix their signatures to the Farmington Declaration reaffirming their commitment to a non-violent, free, fair and transparent elections in October.

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