According to the UNDP Elections Consultant, Ms. Titi Pitso; “negotiation and mediation are the best approaches to resolving elections related violence”.
Ms Pitso was speaking during an on-going interparty dialogue with members of various Political Parties and Civil Society Organisations in Ganta, Nimba County.
It is organized by the National Elections Commission and funded through UNDP Elections Basket Fund.
The two-day event, aims at promoting dialogue when dealing with elections disputes among key political players in Liberia in order to achieve sustainable peace.
According to Ms. Pitso, negotiation should be the first step when dealing with elections disputes among concerned parties. She urged participants to always try and iron out their differences before they escalate to other levels.
“When negotiating parties disagree, then they should call in a third party- a mediator, to try find a solution to the dispute,” She said.
Pitso added that Mediators should be neutral and try not to establish positions or take sides if they are to address the dispute effectively.
She also mentioned other forms of dealing with election violence that included arbitration, which involves using the judicial system to solve a conflict rather than the use of force.
Attorney Nathan P. Garbie, the NEC Deputy Executive Director in charge of Programmes stressed the need to address the issue of violence in the various phases of the electoral cycle.
“There is need to talk about violence, what it is, what causes it and what can be done about it,” Garbie noted.
According to him, since violence starts from the minds of individuals, the first steps in addressing it should start from there.
Deputy Minister of Justice, Counsellor Nyanti Tuan called for a peaceful electoral process, as violence leads to the destruction of life and property.
He urged participants to spread the word on peaceful elections among their peers, families and in their communities.
“Peace is the answer, peace is the process, peace is the result,” he said.
The workshop was officiated by the NEC Oversight Commissioner in charge of Political Affairs Boakai A. Dukuly.
Commissioner Dukuly called for “tolerance and peaceful engagement to allow everybody to participate freely” in electoral processes.
“People need to understand that whatever acts of violence they take, they will have consequences,”Dukuly stressed.
He thanked the UNDP and Partners for supporting the National Elections Commission in organising the dialogue and members of Political Parties and Civil Society Organisations for participating.
UNDP National Programme Officer, Roosevelt Zayzay informed participants that since 2005, UNDP and her Partners have provided support towards the establishment of the Inter- Party Consultation Committee (IPCC), which is aimed at diffusing political tensions and minimising suspicions among political parties by promoting dialogue, intra-party and inter-party interventions to prevent electoral violence.
It can be recalled that in September 2016, twenty two registered Political Parties discussed, reached consensus, drafted and signed the ‘Ganta resolution’ where they committed themselves to peaceful and non-violent 2017 elections.
Mr. Zayzay urged the workshop participants to commit to using the dialogue to address electoral conflicts.