The United Nations said it is “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.”
On Friday, at least two people in the West African country died and 20 were injured during clashes between supporters of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change party and the opposition Unity Party. There have also been outbreaks of electoral violence in Nimba, Montserrado and Grand Cape Mount counties, the United Nation’s Human Rights Office (OHCHR) said.
“Our office has also documented eight attacks on journalists by various political actors, two of which resulted in injuries,” spokesperson Seif Magango said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
UN therefore, call on the authorities in Liberia to take all necessary measures to ensure that elections can take place in a fully inclusive manner allowing for the safe participation of all.
“The Government must ensure that journalists can do their jobs freely and safely. All political actors must refrain from inciting violence or hatred.”
Ahead of October 10th polls, the United States has announced that it will impose visa restrictions on anyone who undermines the country’s constitutional mandates.
It said the move targeted those “undermining democracy in Liberia, including through manipulation or rigging of the electoral process, use of violence… or engagement in any other activity designed to improperly influence the outcome of an election”.
Last month, Liberia’s opposition leader Joseph Boakai, 78, launched his campaign ahead of October elections that will test the popularity of ex-football star President George Weah after a chaotic first term.
Supporters of Boakia who came second to Weah in 2017 elections and who has been dubbed “Sleepy Joe” by detractors for allegedly napping at public events, braved the rain at a stadium to dance, wave flags and demand change.
Meanwhile, Liberia’s President George Weah has also officially launched his campaign for a second term in September in front of thousands of supporters in the capital Monrovia ahead of October’s elections.
“I am extremely pleased you put your confidence in me to lead our country over the last six years,” Weah said.
“I owe my accession to the presidency to the hard work and perseverance of my supporters,” he added.