MONROVIA – The Chief Observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) says the mission has embarked on the deployment of approximately 100 election observers to oversee Liberia’s upcoming presidential and legislative elections, following an invitation from the Liberian government.
Andreas Schieder, a member of the European Parliament from Austria, emphasized the significance of the upcoming elections as a critical test for Liberia’s democracy. “The General Elections scheduled for 10 October 2023 represent a significant test for the democratic consolidation in Liberia. I believe it is important for the European Union to accompany the Liberian people in this process. I trust that state authorities, political parties and all candidates will play their part in promoting a credible, peaceful, transparent and inclusive electoral process,” he said during a press conference in Monrovia, on Friday.
The EU EOM arrived in Monrovia on August 27 with a team of 10 analysts. The mission’s primary objective is to observe and assess the General Elections, ensuring they adhere to national laws, commitments, and international democratic election standards.
During the press conference, Schieder revealed that the EU EOM had already deployed 20 Long-Term Observers throughout Liberia the previous week. The mission’s comprehensive observation includes monitoring the entire electoral process, encompassing the legal framework, electoral administration, voter and candidate registration, campaign environments (including media and social media), voting, counting, tabulation of results, and the complaints and appeals process. Schieder reassured that the mission would remain in the country until the completion of the electoral process.
Schieder also mentioned that he has met with various stakeholders, including the National Elections Commission, Minister of Justice, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Associate Justice, presidential candidates, civil society representatives, and media organizations. He noted that the long-term observers deployed across all 15 counties had initiated discussions with stakeholders and were providing evidence-based reports from their observation areas.
As Election Day approaches, an additional 40 Short-Term Observers will join the EU EOM, bolstering the mission’s presence on the ground, he said. This collective effort will result in around 100 observers, including Members of the European Parliament and EU diplomats from EU Member States, Canada, and Norway. All EU EOM observers adhere to a strict code of conduct that mandates neutrality and non-interference.
The EU Mission will issue preliminary findings two days after Election Day and a Final Report with recommendations for improvement at a later stage.
Regarding the mission’s assessment of Liberia’s electoral process to so far, Schieder explained that it was too early to release any findings, as the team was still in the data collection phase and closely monitoring the pre-election process, including campaigning.
Int’l Community Is watching
These 2023 elections mark Liberia’s fourth consecutive presidential poll. In contrast to previous elections that received logistical and security support from the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the 2023 election is solely being conducted by the Liberian Government through the National Elections Commission (NEC), with security assistance from the Liberia National Police and other paramilitary groups.
The international community, as in Liberia’s past three post-war elections, is closely following the 2023 electoral process. Recently, United States Embassy to Liberia’s Chargé d’Affaires Catherine Rodriguez, addressing a press roundtable reaffirmed the U.S. dedication to monitoring Liberia’s pivotal presidential and legislative elections, emphasizing the importance of a free, fair, and peaceful electoral process. She said the United States stands ready to support efforts to preserve the integrity of these elections, including imposing measures such as sanctions against those found undermining the democratic process in Liberia.