U.S. Orders Visa Restrictions For Those Who Will Undermine Democracy In Liberia
Ahead of the October 10 presidential and legislative elections, the United States Government has threatened to impose visa restrictions on officials and other Liberians who are involved in or are responsible for acts that undermine the democratic process in Liberia.
In a release issued late Wednesday evening, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced the new visa restriction policy under Section 212(a)(3)C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act for those undermining democracy in Liberia.
The policy, which takes effect in advance of the upcoming election, will affect officials of the government and others who are or will be involved in the manipulation and rigging of the electoral process, as well as those involved in alleged acts of intimidating voters, election observers, and civil society activities.
“The United States is committed to supporting and advancing democracy in Liberia and around the world. Today, I am announcing a new visa restriction policy under Section 212(a)(3)C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act for those undermining democracy in Liberia. This policy will take effect in advance of the upcoming election,” the US Secretary of State said in the release. “Persons who undermine democracy in Liberia — including in the lead-up to, during, and following Liberia’s 2023 elections—may be found ineligible for U.S. visas under this policy.”
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.
The restrictions will also affect officials of government and other stakeholders who will use violence to prevent people from exercising their rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly; the 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, the US government said, may also be subject to these restrictions.
This move comes at a time when members of the opposition community are already crying foul that the National Elections Commission is doing everything in its power to rig the elections in favor of the incumbent, President George Weah and his party, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). With less than twelve days until the elections, the NEC has yet to make public the Final Voter Roll (FVR), which will make known the total number of people that are supposed to partake in the elections.
The main opposition, the Unity Party of former Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, slammed the conduct of the electoral process by the NEC, terming it as lacking transparency. The UP has already taken the NEC to court for its failure to publish the FVR.
The main opposition believes the actions of the electoral body are deliberate and are meant to rig the elections in favor of the incumbent, President George Weah.