The Republic of Liberia continues to awake to reports of violent actions perpetrated by supporters of politicians ahead of the December 8, 2020 midterm Senatorial election.
These disturbing occurrences have been drawing local and international attentions.
It is worth noting that many young people serve as actors during these events as a greater proportion of youths have continuously been used politicians to trigger violence during elections.
It is an undeniable fact that young people must be seen playing a positive role in promoting peace, governance and democracy.
Therefore, more awareness raising for youth is required, which could be done in several ways: holding dialogue meetings, town hall meetings, focus group discussions, training workshops, establishment of more tertiary and skills learning institutions, provision of micro credits in forms of revolving loan schemes, establishment of local cooperatives and so on.
Engaging young people and other socially excluded groups, such as women and persons living with disabilities, actively into the mainstream of promoting peace and non-violence, as well as enhancing
peaceful democratic transition and enhancing an efficient system of governance, has remained a challenge.
By integrating young people into the mainstream of peace, and decision-making processes, the likelihood of eruption of violence and bad governance would be minimized.
Given the recent situations leading to the highly anticipated December 8, 2020 polls, early warning signs of conflicts for potential
election-related violence are visible.
These early warning signs include a prevalence through the media of aggressive languages and hate speeches between and among political parties and supporters; rumors of politically-motivated attacks and violent activities of politically-charged youth. All this could prove to be inciting and could undermine the electoral process.
This has created the need for political actors to be focused on inclusive approaches to prevent violence in the senatorial elections, which will serve as a dress rehearsal for 2023 General and Presidential Elections.
Elections can establish the ground of good governance when effectively managed. At times, pre-and post-election processes can spur widespread political violence especially in fragile societies.
Preventing election violence before its eruption is not just a possibility, but the advisable option to utilize and reinforce existing or established early warning mechanism. However, politicians continue to fail the commitment of prevention.
Preventing election violence is more than just holding free and fair elections; yet we need to remember that a peaceful electoral process is not a guarantee for good democracy.
National authorities bear the primary responsibility of ensuring that an electoral process is transparent, inclusive and peaceful.
Political parties, local media, civil society including women and youth can also play a constructive role, only if given the space to participate, and if accorded the opportunity to express their grievances.
Democracy remains a constant struggle for the equal and active participation of civil society organizations including women, youth
and the physically challenged in all spheres and at all levels, particularly with respect to contributing to a more inclusive, free,
fair and credible elections, as well as decision–making in wider context of governance arrangements and more inclusive approaches.
The role of religious and traditional leaders in the entire pending electioneering process is also becoming worrisome.
Having an open civic space is critical to every democratic election and there is little doubt that civil society has a key role to play in
reducing election-related conflict dynamics and promoting a peaceful electoral environment.
A national dialogue will also contribute immensely to the consolidation of peace, thus subsequently enhances prospects for
sustainable peace and a development process that would lead to consultative national development.
It can also reduce the tendencies
of tensions, malice and grudges among political parties, politicians
and political supporters.
In order to continue upholding clear democratic values, the security apparatus, including police must act professionally in their service delivery during the entire electoral process.
The security apparatus must also ensure neutrality and maintain the proper observation and upholding of human rights and democratic standards at all levels, in accordance with the relevant provisions
enshrined in the constitution, that links to all electioneering processes, to achieve the realization of peaceful, credible, free and
Voting being a civic right and responsibility, no movement of citizens on voting day should be restricted; because acting otherwise will not only contravene constitutional but global human rights standards in general.