A woman walks past a campaign billboard for the President of Liberia George Weah in Monrovia, on October 4, 2023. Liberia is scheduled to hold general elections on October 10, 2023. (Photo by JOHN WESSELS / AFP)
(AFP) – The United Nations voiced concern Wednesday over the deadly violence in Liberia ahead of elections next week, urging all sides to pull back from inciting bloodshed or hatred.
Deadly clashes have taken place in Liberia between supporters of the country’s two main political parties in the build-up to the October 10 presidential and parliamentary elections in the West African nation.
“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,” UN human rights office spokesman Seif Magango said in a statement.
He said the office was aware of at least two people killed and 20 others injured in Lofa county on September 29 during clashes between supporters of the Unity Party of former vice president Joseph Boakai, and of the governing Coalition for Democratic Change of George Weah, the ex-international football star turned politician and president since 2018.
The UN rights office said there had also been outbreaks of electoral violence in three other counties.
“Our office has also documented eight attacks on journalists by various political actors, two of which resulted in injuries,” Magango added.
Liberia was ravaged by back-to-back civil wars between 1989 and 2003 that left more than 250,000 people dead.
The country’s main political parties pledged in April to avoid violence and turn to the courts to resolve electoral conflicts that may arise before and after the October polls.
“We call on the authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure that elections can take place in a fully inclusive manner allowing for the safe participation of all,” 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.
“All incidents of election-related violence must be fully and independently investigated and those found responsible held to account without undue delay.”
More than 2.4 million people are registered to vote in next week’s elections.
© Agence France-Presse