Washington DC and Monrovia – October 8, 2020: The U.S. Government is putting African countries on notice about the integrity of upcoming elections on the continent. In statement issued on Thursday on the State Department’s website, Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo warned individuals who would dare interfere in the democratic process; especially those responsible for election related violence.
“The United States is committed to supporting free, fair, inclusive elections. The conduct of elections is important not only for Africans, but also for defenders of democracy around the world. We believe all sides should participate peacefully in the democratic process. Repression and intimidation have no place in democracies.
The right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression and association are at the heart of a functioning democracy. Adherence to these democratic norms and to the rule of law allows all citizens to engage in political dialogue and support their choice of candidates, parties, and platforms. We will watch closely the actions of individuals who interfere in the democratic process and will not hesitate to consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for those responsible for election-related violence. As long-time partners to the nations of Africa, we care about the region’s democratic trajectory and are committed to working constructively with international and regional partners,” Secretary Pompeo concluded.
The statement comes over rising tension in several African countries, including Liberia where violence has overtaken the process with some key individuals and their supporters resorting to fomenting attacks on their opponents. In September, the U.S. moved to impose visa restrictions against some Nigerian politicians over their actions in the November 2019 elections in the States of Kogi and Bayelsa and their involvement in fomenting violence in the run-up to elections in September and October this year in Edo and Ondo States.
According to the Americans, “…These individuals have so far operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people, and have undermined democratic principles. In Liberia, calls have been made for assistance from the international community to take decisive action against individuals and their supporters who are known to foment, finance and support election-related violence.
In last year’s by-election for a vacant seat in the House of Representatives in Montserraro County, supporters of the ruling party attacked the headquarters of the opposition All Liberia Party (ALP), its candidate Telia Urey and injured several of its partisans.
A visiting delegation of the opposition bloc known as the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) HEADED BY the Political Leader of the ANC Alexander B. Cummings was attacked in Grand Gedeh County in July. But for the intervention of Amred Forces of Liberia personnel in the County, they would have sustained grievous harm after the County Administration Kai Farley advised the CPP team that they were not welcomed in the County. Violence also erupted at a CPP primary exercise in Nimba County, northern Liberia in September where a vehicle was damaged and some injuries reported to delegates.
A member of the opposition Liberty Party and Senatorial candidate in upcoming elections was attacked at a rally in the slum community of New Kru Town allegedly by supporters of the ruling CDC. Senator Abraham Darius Dillon shortly, thereafter, angrily reacted by threatening to have his supporters stone the Presidential convoy. The National Security Agency (NSA)reacted by warning that such action would be dealt with decisively. The Senator later retracted his statement and threat. Liberia holds midterm elections in December and General and Presidential elections in 2023. To date, no investigation has been concluded by Liberian authorities nor anyone held to account for these election related violence. In Guinea and Cote’Ivoire, the opposition have been protesting against attempts by the incumbents to extend their rule by amending the constitutions Deadly shases and injutries have been reported. By Our Political Reporters in Wasgington DC and Monrovia/African Star
Main Photo: NEC Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah