Over 121 days after the signing of the Farmington Declaration in Margibi County, members of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), headed by its Secretary General, Jefferson T. Koijee were seen parading the principal street of Monrovia with a casket bearing the image of Unity Party presidential candidate, Joseph N. Boakai.
The Farmington Declaration is an instrument signed by political parties to ensure a non-violent electoral process in October.
Chanting slogans and singing tribute songs that are meant for the dead, Partisans of the CDC were seen holding up the casket on their shoulders with palm branches as they marched towards the CDC party’s headquarters in Congo Town.
The action of the ruling CDC drew much attention from social media users, who suggested that the party’s action was proactive and did not mean well for the stability of the elections, while some supporters of the party claimed that the action is a tradition of the political institution.
What Did Political Parties Sign to?
The signing ceremony was organized under the auspices of the National Elections Commission (NEC), the United Nations (UN), and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to hold themselves accountable to the Liberian people for the upcoming October 10, 2023, elections.
During this signing ceremony, NEC’s chairperson, Davidetta Brown Lansanah, said that the ceremony marks a historic moment in the democratic landscape of Liberia in which political actors who are contesting in the presidential and legislative elections are to show the world their ability to continuously contribute to the maintenance of peace in the country by committing themselves to violence-free elections.
President George M. Weah, whose partisans headed by their secretary general were seen moving across the street of Monrovia with a casket, said during the signing ceremony, “I commend all of us political leaders and our respective political parties for resolving to sign this second Farmington River Declaration, which signifies our commitment and readiness to pursue the path of peaceful, free, fair, transparent, inclusive, and credible democratic elections, come October 10 this year, that will elevate our standard as a democratic nation.”
“With a guaranteed and successful democratic exercise,” Weah said, “we will further demonstrate our readiness for sustained peace, security, stability, and development.”
During this signing ceremony, Weah said that with collective determination to preserve Liberia’s peace and unity, he is certain that the peace and non-violence Pledge that political leaders are making in writing and signing the peace agreement will serve as a testament to the firm commitment.
Weah said, “Not only do I look to all of us political leaders gathered here today to live up to the aspirations set out in the Farmington River Declaration 2023, to which we are about to commit ourselves, but I also call upon all our political parties, supporters and the wider electorate to follow our lead and support us in the fulfilment of the promises made today to the People of Liberia and the World, especially the pledge to prevent violence in our elections.”
Boakai, whose image was seen on the casket, also signed the declaration.
During the signing, he committed to non-violence, free, fair, transparent elections adding that the emphasis has always been placed on peaceful elections, but the element inherent in every democratic environment and its assurances must be deeply anchored in a credible process.
NEC Responds to CDC’s Campaign Action
The Stage media connected NEC’s communication person, Henry Flomo via WhatsApp about the commission standing on the parading the principal street of Monrovia with a casket bearing the image of Unity Party presidential candidate, Joseph Boakai as they strive to conduct peaceful elections.
Flomo said, “Well, I will ask if there are any complaints on what you are referring to and if there are or are any the proceedings will determine whether or not there were violations and subsequent penalties in keeping with the campaign guidelines.”
When asked if the commission cannot take action against any violation without complaint, he said, “First of all you haven’t established any violation by anyone or even if you did, NEC does not take any actions in the absence of due process. So, you or anyone could help with the facts and an investigation could start. We are busy with so many things which will not permit us to go to rallies.”
Speaking on Spoon Talk, former Assistant Minister of Information Services at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism, Samuel Worzie said the action of the CDC was weird for any political institution to carry a casket on the streets of Monrovia because of political mobilization.
Worzie said the action of the ruling party is an effort to instigate violence adding, “I can say today that this year’s election is not going to be free from violence because the stage is now set and the moment in the street clearly shows that somebody was trying to provoke someone.”
This story was produced with the Center for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID)’s support.