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10.10.2005 General News

Kufuor hopes for peaceful vote in Liberia

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Monrovia, Oct. 10, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Monday wished Liberians a peaceful and successful election saying it marked a defining moment in the process to end years of war in the country. In a statement issued by Mr E. K. A. Amoa-Awua, Ghana's Ambassador in Liberia, President Kufuor said: "The forthcoming elections mark the defining moment for the on-going Liberian peace process, brought into being by the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 18th August 2003, which effectively ended Liberia's 14 years fratricidal war and paved the way for the massive intervention by ECOWAS, United Nations, European Union, United States and other international institutions and members of the international community."

President Kufuor said the teething problems that beset Liberia on its peace journey post-August 2003, were solved without much rancour, thus confirming the belief of Liberians that they did indeed possess the ability to resolve their misunderstandings without resorting to the use of guns and other weapons of destruction.

President Kufuor noted that the progress made by Liberians towards normalcy had become the catalyst, which convinced thousands of Liberian refugees to voluntarily return to Liberia without awaiting official repatriation. "The peace Liberians enjoy within their national boundary, and the progress they have made, stand in danger of being unravelled and undermined by pre- and post-election violence. "The peaceful campaigns so far by political parties and other contestants have been greatly admired and appreciated by the international community, most especially by ECOWAS. "It is in this light that Ghana makes this fervent appeal to all political parties, contestants and supporters to patiently and peacefully cast their ballots."

President Kufuor said the peaceful casting of ballots should and must be reinforced by all and sundry, but most especially the contestants, in accepting the outcome of the voting results. "Ghana and ECOWAS remain resolute in ensuring that the elections are free, fair, transparent and peaceful, and, therefore, call on all Liberians and Liberian political groupings and actors to complement ECOWAS by accepting the results of the elections as they are declared by the National Elections Commission."

President Kufuor said Liberia's painful past, which resulted from recriminations over the conduct of elections and its disputed results, must be a constant reminder to all Liberians to seek compromise in matters of mutual concern. "A peaceful pre- and post-election period, marked by acceptance of the results of the elections, would be a major victory and a great morale booster for Liberians, Liberia and ECOWAS." President Kufuor said the sacrifices made to re-establish and nurture peace in Liberia should not be in vain adding: "The generations of Liberians and Liberians yet unborn demand that."

Liberians hold the first post-war presidential and legislative elections on 11th October 2005 to take over from the current Interim Government that came to power after President Charles Taylor was forced into exile as part of a peace deal signed in Accra in 2003. Twenty-two candidates are running for president but opinion polls have suggested it would be a 'two-horse' race between 39-year-old African Soccer

Legend, George "Oppong" Weah of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and 66-year-old economist Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, popularly called "Iron Lady"; whose Unity Party (UP) came a distant second to Charles Taylor's National Patriotic Party in the 1997 election. No violence has been recorded so far with the US observer mission and human rights organisations have commended both parties for maintaining peace during the events. "Barring any funny stuff on Tuesday, the vote should be free and fair," a member of the US mission told the GNA.

Ranking below the two in the presidential race are 64-year-old Charles Brumskine, a lawyer, Mr Rowland Roland Massaquoi, an agriculturist and development planner, one-time Justice Minister Winston Tubman, a nephew of

Former President William Tubman and Varney Sherman, a corporate lawyer of Liberia Action Party. Former rebel leader Sekou Conneh, whose deadly mid-2003 siege of Monrovia helped to drive President Charles Taylor into exile, is also contesting, "but he does not count", some analysts told the GNA in Monrovia. Some 1.3 million registered voters out of Liberia's estimated three million populations would be casting their votes at 1,000 polling stations, according to data from the Electoral Commission. They would also be electing 30 Senators, two each for the 15 counties in the country, as well as members of the House of Representatives the lower house of Parliament.