Liberians have cast their vote, marking yet another significant chapter in its democratic journey. As we await the final count, it is imperative that we maintain peace, respect the electoral process, and prepare for a peaceful transition of power when the National Elections Commission announces the victors of the presidential and legislative elections.
Recent incidents of election-related violence in Lofa County and Bardnersville, along with the broader challenges Liberia has faced, underscore the importance of nurturing a culture of citizen-focused governance.
We must address the root causes of political violence, including poverty, inequality, and non-functioning systems, while prioritizing the needs of our citizens.
At the core of nurturing a thriving democracy lies the imperative of citizen engagement. A well-informed citizenry is the bedrock of a healthy democracy. From basic literacy to understanding the rights and responsibilities of citizens, education is the foundation of an empowered electorate.
Informed citizens are more likely to make choices based on their understanding of candidates’ platforms and, in turn, reduce the risk of violence fueled by misinformation.
The recent violence serves as a stark reminder of the fragility of Liberia’s democracy and the urgency of improving Liberia’s educational system.
Ensuring that every Liberian has access to quality education is a potent tool for poverty reduction, social equality, and an informed citizenry. The government must play a pivotal role by allocating resources and implementing policies that prioritize educational reforms.
The antidote to election-related violence is the democratic process which is itself a mechanism for resolving disputes and conflicts peacefully. Violence not only endangers lives but also weakens the very foundations of democracy. To foster a culture of non-violence and democratic engagement, it is imperative to encourage citizens to embrace the ballot, not the bullet.
One of the crucial steps to achieving this goal is to make presidential and legislative debates legally mandatory for all elections.
These debates offer an unrivaled platform for candidates to present their platforms, engage in substantive discussions, and answer questions from the public. In the most recent debates, thousands of viewers watched the events live on social media or attended in person, but many others failed to do so. The impact of this absence is significant.
When voters choose a candidate based on first-hand information from the candidate about their plans for the country, rather than party politics, it strengthens democracy. Mandatory debates empower voters to make informed choices, reducing the risk of choosing leaders without fully understanding their visions.
As Liberia awaits the announcement of the victors of the presidential and legislative elections, let us remember that the foundation of a thriving democracy is the people’s choice. In this moment of transition, we must prioritize peace, understanding that it is the bridge that carries us forward in the journey of development.
The peaceful transition of power is not just a legal formality; it is the essence of a democracy. It signifies a nation’s commitment to the rule of law, the principles of democracy, and the well-being of its citizens.
When the National Elections Commission declares the winners, Liberia must stand united, allowing the peaceful handover of power to continue our journey toward progress and prosperity.
In this crucial period, we must cherish our democratic values and ensure that they remain unshaken. Liberia’s democracy is a collective endeavor, a responsibility that each citizen must uphold. Let us, with unity and determination, protect and nourish our democracy, securing a brighter future for Liberia and its citizens.