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Editors Endorse ECOWAS Principles For Credible Elections

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By: Varney Dukuly

MONROVIA: Editors and other media practitioners have endorsed an ECOWAS Resolution that calls for participatory democracy and credible, free and fair elections in Liberia.

The editors’ endorsement followed a two-day media encounter that enhances their skills on how the media can positively contribute during the 2023 elections period.

The agreement, backed by instituted laws including the 1986 constitution, ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and other international instruments which guarantee freedom of the press was overwhelmingly reached in Monrovia on Tuesday, September 19, 2023.

The Resolution: “That we shall continue to ensure that electorate in Liberia are well-informed through robust voter education and dissemination of messages, using our platforms to ensure that citizens understand candidates and political parties’ manifestos, campaigns, polling day procedures.”

October 10, 2023 will mark Liberia’s fourth post war democratic elections.

Accordingly, this commitment is also in line with ECOWAS and the International Community positive interest to see the conduct of credible and peaceful elections that meets international standards in Liberia.

Among other things, the editors agreed to publishing and broadcasting a consensus editorials, bordering on free, fair and peaceful on a particular week day.

“That we agreed to maintain high level of professionalism, objectivity and impartiality in our coverage and reporting during and after electioneering period,” said the Resolution.

“That we shall broadcast and report news in such a manner that will not undermine the ordinary Liberians fundamental human rights and shall not encourage the propagation of fake news, inflammatory statements and hate media practices.”

The call for informed and responsible journalism in Liberia prior to the resolution was echoed Monday at the start of the engagement aimed at enhancing the role of the media and CSOs to support credible and peaceful elections.

“The ECOWAS Commission sincerely hopes to foster an environment of informed and responsible journalism and reporting,” “believing fully well that it will contribute to the empowerment of our citizens and consolidate our democracy,” said Josephine Nkrumah, ECOWAS Commission resident representative.

The media in Liberia however agreed to mitigate political conflicts by disseminating peace messages and putting in place mechanisms to counter fake news misinformation, disinformation and mal-information in Liberia.

Over twenty-eight editors including publishers stressed, “we agreed to consciously work against becoming channels, and conduits for publication or broadcasting of materials that can inflame passions, incite violence, promote hate, or threaten the freedom of others to participate peacefully in the elections process.”

The Democracy and Good Governance Division within the ECOWAS Commission along with Liberian editors and other topnotch facilitators including Kwame Karikari, professor of journalism and media and Sulemana Braimah, executive director media foundation for West Africa all provided support for the document.

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