The West African Elders Forum (WAEF) Election Mission to Liberia has urged politicians and other stakeholders in the country to eschew violence and be committed to peaceful general election schedule for Tuesday.
The forum made the call in a statement after the close of the campaign on Sunday in Monrovia, the Capital of Liberia.
The statement was jointly signed by Head of the Mission, former President Goodluck Jonathan, and Deputy Head of the mission, Mr Kadrie Ouedrago, who is former Prime Minister of Burkina Faso.
The forum urged all candidates to abide by the peace accord.
The forum also urged the country’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) and the security agencies to exercise their mandate in accordance with the nation’s laws to build trust and guarantee the integrity of the elections.
The elders commended Liberians for their abiding faith in the nation’s democracy, as exemplified in the mass participation in the 2023 electioneering activities, which culminated in the spirited closing campaigns of various parties which ended on Sunday.
The forum stated that Liberia had in the last two decades, established a striking culture of peaceful elections and seamless transitions.
It urged all stakeholders to strive to maintain this tradition by working to make the 2023 elections transparent, free and fair.
“We urge the candidates and voters to be law-abiding and avoid actions that could have a negative impact on the elections and threaten the peace and stability the country has witnessed since the end of the civil war.
“We note the commitment to a non-violent, free, fair and transparent electoral process, as demonstrated by the signing of the Farmington River Declaration. We urge all candidates to abide by the dictates of the peace accord,” it stated.
The forum, however, expressed concern over the recent reports of violent clashes in some parts of the country that led to the alleged death of two-party supporters in Lofa County.
“WAEF condemns the unfortunate incident and urges the concerned authorities to conduct diligent investigations with a view to preventing such acts of violence from happening during and after the elections.
“In this regard, we encourage them, as they close their campaigns, to appeal to their supporters to conduct themselves peacefully and maintain law and order during and after the elections,” it said.
WEAF said this was important to promote progressive politics devoid of hate speech, personal attacks, incendiary rhetoric and violence.
It stated that it was imperative that the candidates and their supporters commit to repeating the exemplary milestone achieved in 2017.
It recalled that similar peace pledges were made in 2017 and strictly adhered to in the interest of peace, progress and sustainable democracy.
The forum according to the statement had engaged with Liberian stakeholders since July, when it first deployed a pre-election mission to Monrovia.
Members of the WAEF mission who arrived Liberia on Saturday, will on election day visit polling stations in Monrovia to observe voting procedures and results collation process.
The mission will remain engaged until the results are declared, and the electoral processes successfully concluded.
Over 2.4 million Liberians head to the polls to elect a president and members of their legislature.
Currently, there are 19 candidates hoping to replace incumbent President George Weah of the Coalition of Democratic Change (CDC), who is seeking a second six-year term.
The two main challengers are former vice president Joseph Boakai and businessman Alexander Cummings.
Both men were previously in a four-party opposition alliance, the Coalition of Political Parties (CPP).
However, in spite of the initial success, the coalition has since broken up after reported disagreements over who gets the presidential ticket in this election cycle.
Also in the running is Liberian People’s Party’s Tiawan Gongloe, a renowned human rights lawyer and professor of law who served as the country’s solicitor general during the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf administration.
The former president became Africa’s first elected female leader in 2006, but inclusivity in politics is still a mirage in many parts of the continent, including her native Liberia.
Only two of the 20 contenders in Tuesday’s presidential vote are women, one of whom is Sara Nyanti, a former deputy special representative in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.
Weah, who is running for a second term, has boasted that he will secure outright victory in the first round of elections.
He has been in office since 2017.