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The United Nations expressed concern on Wednesday about the violence in Liberia ahead of the 10 October elections and called on all parties to refrain from inciting hatred or bloodshed.
“We are concerned about reports of election-related violence, the use of language that could amount to hate speech, and attacks on journalists in Liberia,” the spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Seif Magango, said in a statement.
Deadly clashes have occurred between supporters of the two main political parties, the opposition Unity and the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), during the campaign for the presidential and parliamentary elections in this West African country.
Mr Magango reported that at least two people were killed and 20 injured in Lofa county on 29 September during clashes between former vice-president Joesph Boakai supporters and those of the head of state since 2018, former football star George Weah.
A previous report by the UN and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) put the death toll at three.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights also reported electoral violence in three other counties.
“Our services have also documented eight attacks on journalists by various political protagonists, two of which resulted in injuries”, added Mr Magango. Liberia experienced civil wars between 1989 and 2003, which left more than 250,000 people dead.
The main Liberian political parties pledged in April 2023 to refrain from violence and to use the judicial institutions to resolve any electoral disputes that might arise before and after the elections. “The government must ensure that journalists can carry out their work freely and safely. All political actors must refrain from inciting violence or hatred”, stressed the spokesperson.
“All incidents of election-related violence must be thoroughly and independently investigated, and those responsible must be held to account without delay”, he also said.
More than 2.4 million voters are registered for the presidential and legislative elections to choose 73 deputies and 15 senators out of the country’s 30 at the end of their term of office.