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UN rights office concerned over pre-election violence in Liberia

Downtown Monrovia, Liberia.
UNDP/Morgana Wingard
Downtown Monrovia, Liberia.

UN rights office concerned over pre-election violence in Liberia

UN Affairs

A senior UN human rights official on Wednesday called on authorities in Liberia to take all necessary measures to ensure that the upcoming elections can take place in a fully inclusive manner.

“We are concerned by reported instances of election-related violence, use of language that could amount to hate speech, and attacks on journalists in Liberia ahead of the general election on 10 October,” said UN Human Rights Office Spokesperson in the country, Seif Magango.

Violent clashes

Violent clashes between supporters of the opposition Unity Party and the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) last month left at least two people dead and 20 others injured in Foya, Lofa County.

According to the Spokesperson, there have also been outbreaks of electoral violence in Nimba, Montserrado and Grand Cape Mount counties.  

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The UN has also documented eight attacks on journalists by various political actors, two of which led to injuries.

Mr. Magango said the Government “must ensure that journalists can do their jobs freely and safely. All political actors must refrain from inciting violence or hatred.”

Political division

Supporters of both main parties have accused each other of instigating the violence. Videos circulating on social media depict scenes of chaos, with rival groups engaged in altercations and hurling objects at each other, sending shockwaves through the community.

The incident in September comes just under two months after a similar outbreak of violence between rival party followers in the capital, Monrovia, which reportedly resulted in numerous injuries and widespread condemnation from both the international community in Liberia and concerned citizens.

A call for peace

Calls have been made for Former Vice President Joseph Boakai, representing the Unity Party, and President George Weah, leader of the Coalition for Democratic Change, to personally condemn the violence and urge restraint by their supporters, according to news reports.  

Both parties have issued statements condemning the violence.

“All incidents of election-related violence must be fully and independently investigated and those found responsible held to account without undue delay,” Mr. Magango said.