By: G. Bennie Bravo Johnson
Days after the update of the National Elections Commission (NEC) voter registration schedule, the ALL Liberia Coalition Party (ALCOP), led by Hon. Lusinee F. Kamara, wants the NEC to tell its employees to treat the rights of the Fula community with the same respect as any other Liberian.
ALCOP leader Hon. Kamara told reporters this week that Fulani people, especially Fula women, had their rights taken away during previous elections because of their race and religion during the voter registration process.He warned that the National Elections Commission should tell the voter registrars to respect the rights and dignity of all citizens and make sure that all citizens, no matter their tribe or religion, can register to vote in a free and fair way.At the same time, he asked the NEC to teach its staff about the rights of naturalized citizens, especially the Fula.”Unfortunately, we do hear a lot of complaints about how NEC Voter Registrars ignore the Fula ethnic group when they are trying to sign up people to vote.
Mr. Kamara also said that it is not right to take documents away from Fula people that were given to them by the government.”How can you disrespect the work of our state institutions that gave the documents to the Fula after they satisfy the criteria required by the authorities of the government agency granting such documents?” He interrogated.
“Let us all remember that our society, Liberia, is multi-cultural and multi-religious.” Let us know that the Fula community has contributed and continues to contribute greatly to Liberia’s social and political progress before and today. Let us respect them for the important role they continue to play as an inseparable part of Liberia.He then asked Liberians to tell the National Elections Commission and its voter registrars about the many complaints of Muslim women wearing hijab or an Islamic headscarf being turned away without being punished.”
Similar complaints have come to us that NEC voter registrars deliberately deny those citizens who bear Muslim names on the poor excuse that these Muslims can’t speak Standard English, among other weak reasons.”He said that the NEC staff doesn’t ask questions of other citizens with traditional names, only Fula people.”Other citizens bearing different names are not so interrogated or denied registration for not speaking good English.” We see a clear double standard in this and call on the NEC to stop subjecting Muslims to these indecent treatments, harassments, and denials during voter registration exercises.
“As well-meaning Liberians, we should beware of the pains, sorrows, dangers, and setbacks Liberia has suffered from the injustice of discrimination and social inequality.”If women wearing different styles of dress are not stopped, Muslim women wearing hijabs are equally entitled to respect and dignity.”We ask the Commissioners of the National Elections Commission (NEC) to make sure that their voter registrars are not infected by the virus of segregation, tribalism, and Islamophobia.”He then said that it was time to recognize that all citizens, including the Fula, have the right to sign up and vote, and that the Fula were no different.”There are no exceptions, including illiterate Muslims and Muslim women wearing hijab.
“We Liberians are one people, despite our different tribes and religions. We must work together to make Liberia better. He concluded In the meantime, he asked people in the Fula community to take the process of registering seriously so that they could get the right to vote in the upcoming elections.”We like to take this time to encourage all our people to use this registration period as an opportunity to prepare for the 2023 Presidential Elections.”
“As we encourage all Liberians to take part in these democratic processes, we therefore call on the National Elections Commission not to field voter registrars who will violate the rights of people going to register.”