Prior to the holding of the October 10 elections, women of all ages gathered from dawn to sunset on a roadside close to the party headquarters in Monrovia of several presidential candidates and knelt in prayer, fasting, and supplication to God that the country be spared of violence during and after the elections.The fast and prayer was also observed by women in the other counties. According to the organizers, their action was intended for God Almighty to keep the country stable during and after the elections.The groups mounted placards outside their camps with the inscriptions: ‘Don’t touch our peace’; ‘Say no to violence,’ etc.At their small encampment, the women under the banner of a local non governmental organization, Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET), sang peace songs; but on election day, they played music over the public address (PA) raising awareness of their work to the delight and entertainment of passersby.“In 2002 and 2003, we led the peace process under the banner of the Liberian women’s Mass Action for Peace and we are still assisting in maintaining our country’s peace,” Delphine Morris, WIPNET National Co-coordinator said.Mrs. Morris said the women had assembled again for the 2017 electoral period to join their faiths and ensure that the elections remain free, fair and transparent.“During the war, we prayed and fasted until the fighting ended in 2003,” recalled Jassah Ganyan, an elderly lady resting under the WIPNET tarpaulin.But many here believe the specter of conflict still looms as President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, also a co-winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, steps down after 12 years in power.“We foresee electoral violence,” said Morris, eyeing an armored police vehicle passing by. “It’s not strange to Liberia. In the 2011 election when the result was announced, we had violence break out a little, and one or two people died. We don’t want it again,” she added.In 2011 the losing candidate in a run-off with Sirleaf, Winston Tubman, had called on his supporters to boycott the second round of voting. Two people were shot dead outside his headquarters the day before the vote.Morris worries that presidential candidates are stoking possible disputes by prematurely claiming victory in what is widely acknowledged as an open field this year.“All the parties you talk to, they all say they must win and they feel they have already won,” Morris said, describing a memorandum against violence they have asked all of Liberia’s political parties to sign. “If you don’t win, maybe this is not your time; maybe you have to do better work,” she said.The Liberia Restoration Party Standard bearer, MacDella Cooper, said the country has lots of possibilities in reaching its promise land, adding that people need to elect the right leadership. “We had many years in the wilderness but today we are free people. Are we going to put wrong spirit there to spoil it for us again?” Madam Cooper asked.Cooper continues: “I want to stand in the leadership of this nation because I understand that God did not create us as a people to suffer. That who can suffer it the most? Aren’t they women and children and young people, my mothers, my sisters, my brothers, my fathers? We should not try to make this mistake again.”Despite being new on the political stage, Madam Cooper said she represents a new day for Liberia adding that she is committed to bringing about change. According to her, the LRP will restore Liberia to its original Christian State. She said: “When we put Christ at the center of our country, we will do better in this nation. We have got to start doing things the way God wants.”The women’s peace movement led by its founder Leymah Gbowee, who spoke to journalists on Tuesday, said: “It took a lot of managing, tolerance, compromises, and everything that kept the peace because, without the peace, we would not have done what we have.“But today I’m so pleased that now, our first generation of children can say they do not know anything about a gun, they never have to run,” she said.According to her, sustaining the peace is primarily for the young people to remember the deadly civil war that was like rape for them during those dark days.“Today, we are saying on this airfield, that never again should we remember the past. We are resolute as women from all walks of life that we will mobilize, use our limited resources and if any one thinks that they can take us back to war, it is false. We are for Peace and we will keep the peace,” she declared.She was, however, quick to remind women that in 2003 and 2005, they lobbied for peace only and did not take into consideration political participation, justice for women, economic empowerment and all of the advantages a post conflict society should be having.“We only stopped at peace. So, I am urging women that we are open to working with every group. Let’s come together and strategize and present our agenda to the next President and say ‘This is the women’s agenda and we want it to be implemented in one hundred days or in six years,’”she said.The ceremony was attended by several groups, among them, the Women’s Situation Room and Crusaders for Peace.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
CRAWFORD, Texas – Demonstrators on both sides of the war debate waved signs and argued their causes in President George W. Bush’s hometown again Saturday, though their efforts drew much smaller crowds than last summer’s dueling rallies. About 200 war protesters joined Cindy Sheehan on a private lot outside Bush’s ranch, laughing at a Bush impersonator and crying while listening to relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq. Sheehan, whose 26-day protest in August reinvigorated an anti-war movement, called on supporters to return to the campsite during the president’s Thanksgiving holiday. Saturday, she held up a picture of 20 flag-draped coffins on a plane bound for the United States. “This is George Bush’s exit strategy from Iraq,” said Sheehan, whose son Casey died in Iraq last year. “And we want our kids to walk off planes, not be loaded onto the back of a hearse from a loading dock. And that’s why we’re doing what we do.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals Several miles away in downtown Crawford, a dozen Bush supporters gathered with their own signs, one reading: “Real America won’t wimp out.” Throughout the day, dozens of others stopped by the pro-Bush tent to express their support. “I’m just a flag-waver, and I disagree with what (protesters) are saying,” said Army veteran William Moore of nearby McGregor. “The fact is, we did go to war. I don’t like war, but I don’t want us to get out of Iraq before the job is done.” The scene was far different from the last weekend in August, when several thousand Bush supporters and war protesters held separate rallies in the one-stoplight town of 700 residents. Both sides attributed Saturday’s low turnout to the holiday weekend and rainy, cool weather. Saturday’s biggest demonstration in Crawford turned out to be one involving about 500 Americans from Ethiopia, which has experienced political unrest and violence since the disputed May election. Demonstrators called on Bush to pressure the Ethiopian government to release detained opposition party leaders, who accused authorities of rigging the polls that returned the ruling party to power. In his weekly radio address Saturday, Bush mourned the growing number of fallen troops in Iraq but vowed to keep fighting for the cause they died for. He thanked U.S. service members and military families “who are making great sacrifices to advance freedom’s cause.” The anti-war campsite includes small white crosses with names of some of the more than 2,100 U.S. soldiers who have died since the war began in March 2003. Bush supporter Gary Qualls, whose son Louis died with other Marines in Iraq last fall, said he and other military families see the protest group’s use of the names as disrespectful. “It is time to put an end to this unwarranted, unethical and un-American protest using our fallen heroes’ names,” said Qualls, who created a pro-Bush camp in downtown Crawford in August. He said he had already recommended legislation to U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, to ban anyone but the media from using a fallen soldier’s name or picture without family permission. Carter could not be reached for comment Saturday. On Saturday, Sheehan’s group released nearly 300 blue-and-white balloons with anti-war messages and pictures and names of fallen soldiers. Bill Mitchell said he was honored that his son Mike was being remembered. “I’m very grateful for anyone who sees pictures and reads stories about Mike and to recognize the loss,” Mitchell said. “Whatever your beliefs on this war, we’ve lost some great boys and girls.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!