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Major Political Party Leaders Attend National Political Forum

Amidst months of political wrangling in Liberia as to the certain provisions of the Code of Conduct and the holding of a peaceful democratic process and elections in Liberia, the Government in collaboration with its local and international partners have been working closely with political parties to ensure that the political process remain peaceful.

A preparatory meeting with political parties and actors, and stakeholders was held on May 24, 2017 at the Lutheran Guest House on 13th Street in Sinkor to thrash out the vexing political issues yet unresolved. The meeting, like recent consultations with political parties, was spearheaded by the Presidential Steering Committee of the National Political Forum chaired by chairman and vice chairman of the Inter-religious Council of Liberia Archbishop Jonathan Hart and Sheikh Umaru Kamara.

The preparatory meeting also known as the inaugural meeting laid the groundwork/basis for the National Political Forum in that it heightened political discussions with the aim of addressing all concerns and unresolved issues relative to the political process with the intent of reaching a consensus for peaceful elections in October, 2017.

The Forum took place a week after the “Inaugural meeting”. President Ellen Johnson Sireleaf, House Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay, and a number of presidential hopefuls all graced the Forum.

The 2-day political forum on the holding of Peaceful Elections in October 2017 ran from May 31 to June 1 at the Monrovia City Hall..

In Special remarks during the Opening ceremony of the Forum, President Sirleaf encouraged free and open dialogue among political parties noting that Liberian electorates and international partners have high expectations about political parties and their leader’s participation in and commitment to the holding of free, fair, credible, transparent and peaceful elections in October this year.

President Sirleaf said she looks forward to seeing Liberia’s political parties standard bearers signing the Farmington Solemn Declaration (just as they did in Ganta) during the ECOWAS Summit of June 4, 2017 in the presence of regional and world leaders.

 House Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay observed that the National Political Forum was necessary in that it charts the roadmap for the holding of peaceful elections in October, elections which are indispensable to Liberia’s democracy.

According to Speaker Nuquay those desirous of serving in leadership positions must commit to the peace and stability of Liberia. He reminded political parties and their leaders to champion the holding of free, fair credible and transparent elections come October.

The Speaker also promised the Legislature’s commitment to working with the next government to protect and enhance the achievements and gains made since the past 12 years.

For his part Chief ZanZan Kawah, head of the Traditional Council of Liberia, urged all political parties to put Liberia first during their deliberations. Chief Kawah appealed to them to work together for the sake of peace in Liberia.

Earlier in his introductory remarks, Episcopal Archbishop Jonathan Hart noted that the Inter-religious Council and the National Political Forum’s Steering Committee have worked tirelessly to bring political parties and actors, civil society and partners together to dialogue freely and openly at the Forum.

The Forum is expected to stimulate discussions around vexing political issues surrounding the holding of the October elections so that a common agenda that prioritizes peace and unity can be achieved.

Episcopal Archbishop Jonathan Hart chairs both the inter-religious Council and the National Political Forum Steering Committee. He promised both groups’ unflinching support to working with political parties and actors, to ensure the holding of peaceful, credible and transparent elections in October this year.

Archbishop Hart also urge political actors to discuss freely and openly, and recommend solutions to moving Liberia’s political process in the path to peace and unity.

Most of Liberia’s major political parties, standard bearers and leadership, government officials, civil society organizations including publishers of major media houses and members of the diplomatic Corps all graced day one of the Forum.

The most controversial issue during this electoral process is the Code of Conduct. Its 5.1 and 5.2 provisions are perceived in some political quarters as having the propensity to ban certain standard Bearers from contesting the October 2017 presidential election.

Political despites across the world nowadays are characterized by wild debates or discussions but these healthy wrangling usually result in arriving at common understanding/decision. So it was with the National Political Forum. After two days of robust debates the political party representatives agreed on a thirteen count resolution, committing themselves to the holding of free, fair, credible, transparent, inclusive, participatory democratic elections in Liberia on October 10, 2017.

The resolution titled “The Farmington River Declaration: A Commitment to Peaceful Elections and Judicial Resolution of Election Disputes in Liberia” is expected to be signed by Standard Bearers and Chairman of all 22 political parties of Liberia in the presence of West African and other world leaders during the ECOWAS Summit scheduled for June 4, 2017 in Farmington Margibi County.

UNMIL, AU, and ECOWAS all pledge support to the holding of free, fair, credible, transparent and peaceful elections in Liberia in October 2017.

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