MONROVIA: Days after some individuals believed to be supporters of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), led government were seeing carrying an empty coffin, bearing the portraits of the standard-bearer of the opposition Unity Party (UP), Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Boakai, the Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS), has sternly warned political actors to desist from conflict-ridden and inflammatory politics.
ECOWAS wants Liberian politicians to engage in a policy-orientated campaigns.
The directive from ECOWAS comes in the wake of the action of the CDC supporters who were seen parading a casket inundated with images of former Vice President Joseph Boakai, who is incumbent President George Weah’s political rival.
The incident, which occurred on Saturday, August 5, 2023, however, sparked public outrage and drew widespread condemnations from various quarters of the Liberian Nation.
“We recall the Farmington Declaration, which urges all political parties to adhere to peace, tolerance, and an issues-based campaign,” the ECOWAS Mission in Liberia said.
Statement: “The ECOWAS Representation Office in Liberia expresses deep concern and condemnation of the unsavory and unacceptable acts displayed by some CDC supporters as the campaign opened on August 5. We refer to carrying a casket with the image of the UP Presidential candidate, Joseph Boakai, in a manner that amounts to provocation.”
ECOWAS, in the statement reminded political parties of the peace pledge signed by their Presidential Candidates on August 2, which is geared towards the promotion of a conducive electoral environment.
According to ECOWAS, it is the responsibility of every Liberian to exercise restraint and engender a campaign culture that promotes tolerance and peaceful contestation of ideals.
“We emphasize that the hard-earned peace of Liberia, undergirded by democratic governance, must be protected by all Liberians.
“In this regard, we call on all political parties, as key stakeholders in any credible and peaceful elections, to exercise restraint and foster issues-based campaign that speaks to the aspirations of Liberians,” the statement added.
The ECOWAS position comes after the Unity Party, whose presidential candidate’s pictures were pasted all over the casket, blamed the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change of lack of maturity and an attempt to cause provocation.
President George Weah has, however, denounced the incident and warned against repeating it, which he said was provocative.
“Stop carrying caskets,” Weah said at Eternal Life Christian Ministries in Barnerville yesterday. He called on supporters of the CDC regime to abandon and desist from repeating the said insane action.”
The condemnation of the incident by Weah, according to ECOWAS and his party’s campaign committee, signifies a demonstration of goodwill and commitment to the Farmington Declaration and Liberia’s peace.
Meanwhile, the Election Coordinating Committee has joined ECOWAS to describe as inflammatory and provocative the actions of some of the president’s supporters.
The group, which is the biggest election observation group in the country, said the ruling party started its campaign in an “uncivilized manner”.
“This action is inflammatory and provocative and runs contrary to the spirit and intent of the Farmington Declaration,” the group said in a statement.
“It also has the propensity to incite violence and intimidation during the campaigning period,” the statement added.
Credible elections, according to the group, are not assessed by the number of votes acquired by a political party or independent candidate, but by adhering to the laws and regulations guiding the electoral process as well as the fundamental values and principles of democracy.
“These elections are critical for the consolidation of the country’s fragile and emerging democracy,” the statement released by the elections monitoring body added.
“Political Parties and independent candidates should avoid the use of inflammatory and hateful speeches and embrace issue-based campaigns rather than attacking personalities,” it added.
Meanwhile, the group cautioned political parties and independent candidates to comply with Article 83 of the 1986 Constitution, which called for candidates and political parties to publish and submit to the electoral body detailed statements of assets and liabilities every September 1, of each year.
According to the NEC, it has also observed the gross violation of the Code of Conduct by the government through the appointment of public officials on the campaign team of the ruling party.