Monrovia- It appears a decision by supporters of Vice President Joseph Boakai to generate publicity ahead of the Monrovia launch of his recently-released book, From Foya to the Capitol, is sparking political tension as other opposition including the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) is follow suit by posting banners of their political leaders around the city.
Under the National Elections guidelines, it is a violation to be involved in pre-campaigning, Spokesman Henry Flomo told FrontPageAfrica Wednesday.
In the Sinkor area Wednesday, supporters of both the CDC and the UP were seen posting images of their political leaders under the guise of creating public awareness.
The photo of the Unity Party Standard bearer was posted right next to a poster of the CDC candidates.
The poster carrying the photo of the UP standard Bearer had no Party emblem but carried an inscription of a book launch for the VP.
“Join Ambassador Joseph N. Boakai Vice President Republic of Liberia at his Book Launch From Foya to the Capital.”
Unlike the UP, the CDC’s poster had an inscription that read: “the People Choice Join our team to transform lives and rebuild Liberia,” along with the Coalition for Democratic Change’s emblem.
In a telephone interview with FrontPageAfrica, Representative Moses Kollie, Deputy Vice Chair of the Coalition said, the CDC’s poster was an awareness campaign for the Party. “We are not campaigning, we just want people to be familiar with the coalition like it’s done by other political institutions not only the CDC.”
Mr. Mo Ali, Secretary for Press and Propaganda of the ruling party, on his Facebook page responded to the situation. In the statement he said “Since its formation in 1984, the Unity Party (UP) has been and remains a law-abiding institution.”
Mr. Ali said the party has continued to exhibit its adherence to the laws of Liberia even after the merger with the Liberia Action Party (LAP) and the Liberia Unification Party (LUP).
Ali pleaded with the party’s auxiliaries, support groups, friends and well-wishers that are planning to engage into pre-campaign activities to do so in consonance with the election laws and all other laws appertaining to elections in Liberia.
“The party is also urging its representative nominees and supporters to avoid the use of photos of nominees on T-Shirts, Posters, Flyers, Billboards, etc… and any other material(s) that could be interpreted as campaign or campaign related materials. Engaging in such behaviour could be considered campaigning and could reflect negatively on the party.”
He further stated that the UP understands that its members, supporters, sympathizers and friends are eager to engage into campaign activities but asked them to wait for July 31, 2017, the day on which campaigning officially starts. “In this regard, we urge all of you to refrain from making campaign utterances and to continue to govern yourselves within the confines of the election laws of Liberia,” he said.
When asked whether the elections commission was concerned about on-going pre-campaign activities by some political parties, spokesman Flomo said, the NEC was aware and had just concluded a meeting with those involved and issued warning. “We concluded a meeting with the LP, UP, CDC we warned them and they reassured themselves to respect the law governing elections.”
In January of 2017, the NEC said it was aware that some political parties and individuals desiring to seek political offices during the forthcoming 2017 General Elections are engaged in pre-campaign activities in violation of Chapter VI, Section 6 of the 2014 Guidelines Relating to the Registration of Political Parties and Independent Candidates.
The NEC says it has also observed that self-styled groups under names such as “Movements for….., Friends of…..” and others in support of political parties, individuals and/or independent aspirants intending to contest the 2017 Elections are also engaged in activities that contravene the herein mentioned guidelines. The Commission states that it has not declared the start of political campaigning for the 2017 General Elections; therefore engaging in any of the following activities outside of the campaign period are strictly prohibited under Section 24.3 of the Guidelines:
Political Rallies; Political Broadcasts, statement and political messages in print and electronic media;
Use of Posters, Fliers, buntings, advertisement on Billboards, public and private buildings, light poles and the internet; T-shirts, caps and other promotional items; and Individual Promotional stickers on vehicles.
The commission said, because it takes its mandate of conducting free, fair and transparent elections seriously, it strongly warns political parties, independent aspirants and groups engaged in such activities to desist with immediate effect as the Commission will not hesitate to take punitive actions against violators which may include decertification or suspension in the case of political parties.
“The Commission however states that as stipulated in Chapter VI of the Guidelines related to political parties and candidates the following activities are permissible during non-campaign periods:
Political party membership drive; Establishment of party offices (both national and local);
Fund Raising Activities; Use of Logo/emblems on offices, vehicles and other party properties; Holding of political party national and local convention; Political party meetings; and Representational activities, including receiving and responding to petition from constituencies.