Barely two weeks before Liberia’s Presidential and Legislative elections, the United States has again announced a new visa restriction policy under Section 212(a)(3)C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act for those undermining democracy in Liberia.
According to a State Department dispatch, the visa restriction policy will take effect before the upcoming elections and will indicate the United States’ commitment to supporting and advancing democracy in Liberia and around the world.
Liberians will go to polls on October 10, 2023, to vote for both President and Vice President and 88 Legislators with over 2.4m registered voters.
It can be recalled that the Chargé d’Affaires at the United States Embassy in Liberia, Catherine Rodriguez, warned political actors who intend to cause violence and undermine democracy before and after elections to expect possible measures such as sanctions.
“Like other countries in the world, your citizens will soon be celebrating your democracy by flocking to the polls to choose your leaders and representatives. It is a solemn responsibility. The government must ensure that these are fair, free, and peaceful elections, and to hold accountable those that would attempt to disrupt it. Officials must also ensure that the government invests an adequate level of money, personnel, and organizational resources to protect its citizens, candidates, polling stations, and election workers from intimidation or harm,” Chargé d’Affaires emphasized.
The release further stated “Under this policy, the United States will pursue visa restrictions for those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Liberia, including through manipulation or rigging of the electoral process; use of violence to prevent people from exercising their rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly; use of measures designed to prevent political parties, voters, civil society, or the media from disseminating their views; or engagement in any other activity designed to improperly influence the outcome of an election. Certain family members of such persons may also be subject to these restrictions”.
The dispatch emphasized the decision to impose visa restrictions reflects the commitment of the United States to support Liberians’ aspirations to have free and fair elections that demonstrate the will of the people and strengthen democracy and the rule of law.
“The visa restriction policy announced today will apply to specific individuals and is not directed at the Liberian people or the Government of Liberia”.
Figo Mansaray is a Liberian Journalist for over 10 years and currently working with Kukatonon Media Inc and AYV Media Empire.
Figo, a prospective Graduate at the University of Liberia can be contacted via +231777489052/+231881734014 and email@example.com