12 October 2005

Secretary-General Urges Liberians to Make Full Use of "Precious Right" to Freely Choose Their Leaders

NEW YORK, 11 October (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of a radio message delivered today by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the elections in Liberia:

Today is a crucial day for the people of Liberia.  As you go to the polls to elect a new government, you have the opportunity to open the door to a new era.  After 15 years of conflict, these elections can usher in lasting peace, democratic development and much-needed reconstruction.

The decisions you make today will have a profound impact on the future of Liberia.  The United Nations calls on all registered voters to go to their designated polling stations and exercise their right to vote.  I urge each one of you to make full use of this precious right to freely choose your leaders, and thereby play your individual part in bringing peace and democracy to your country.

UNMIL, the United Nations Mission in Liberia, is working closely with Liberia's security agencies to ensure a safe environment, so that you can cast your vote without fear of intimidation or violence.  Thousands of international and Liberian election observers have been deployed throughout the country to help make sure that this is so.

Let me also congratulate the political parties, their candidates and supporters.  Over the past few weeks, they have conducted their campaigns in a generally peaceful and orderly manner.  They have demonstrated their desire to keep the peace process moving forward.  I hope this will continue once the elections are over and the results are known.  After the new Government takes office, the United Nations Mission in Liberia and the rest of the UN family will remain fully engaged in helping it succeed.

Let me also thank the ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] mediator for his tireless efforts to ensure that the elections are held on schedule, as well as the African Union and ECOWAS for their assistance to the people of Liberia during the transition.

Friends, let this day mark the opening of a new chapter in the history of Liberia.  A chapter of reconciliation and reconstruction, underpinned by good governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights.  On those foundations, you can rebuild a nation of which all Liberians can be proud.

Good luck, and God bless you all.

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