Elections Coordinating Commission launches Project on Electoral Reform
Monrovia – The Election Coordinating Committee (ECC) and the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) have launched a project aimed at reforming the electoral laws of Liberia.
Giving an overview of the project, through a power point presentation, Harold Aidoo, the head of IREDD and the ECC steering committee stated that there was a need for a project on Electoral Reform because, Liberia’s electoral processes, systems and laws needed to be improved to guarantee voters’ confidence.
According to Aidoo, the reform project will help ensure electoral credibility (free, fair and transparent democratic elections in Liberia) and the need for harmonization of Liberia’s electoral legal framework.
He said improving Liberia’s electoral laws will ensure a consistent and responsive legal framework for future elections in the country.
The project seeks to refine and publicize the National Elections Commissions(NEC) and the ECC reform agenda to include several amendments to the New Elections Law, amendment of the Code of Conduct of Public Officials, and amendment of the Constitution to change the election date.
Aidoo said the reform process will “Actively engage the Legislature of Liberia and national government stakeholders to advocate for electoral reform agenda and to design and implement a robust advocacy campaign to publicize NEC/Electoral reform agenda and engender grassroots support for reform to spur legislative action on electoral reform among others.”
The program which brought together members of different political parties, civil society groups, government and the international community was held last week, June 4 at the Conrina Hotel in Sinkor.
In an interview with reporters at the end of the launch, the head of the ECC Oscar Bloh, stated that even though according to Article 3c of the Liberia constitution, the power is given to the National Elections Commission to adjudicate all electoral disputes, his organization, among other civil society groups, are advocating that power be taken away from the NEC and given to an independent body.
“We have over the years called for the amendment to that constitutional provision so that electoral disputes can be handled by an independent electoral tribunal, because the NEC cannot be the one managing elections at the same time adjudicating electoral disputes,” he stressed.
Making remarks on behalf of USAID Liberia Accountability and Voice Initiative, LAVI Chief of Party, Madame Milica Panic stated the goal of LAVI is to support Liberian partners to strengthen multi-stakeholder partnerships to advocate for and monitor accountability and policy reforms in Liberia.
“This means to create a space, mechanisms and opportunities with which all citizens of Liberia are able to voice their concerns to their government and that all relevant parties including: civil society, community-based organizations, the private sector, associations and government work together to come up with collective solutions to address these shared concerns,” Milica said.
She called on community members and the citizenry as a whole to be at the core of electoral reform interventions.
She referenced the 2017 elections as a lesson learned and the fact that both local and international observers made recommendations with clear rationale for reform.
The project titled: Strengthening Liberia’s Democracy through Electoral reform is funded by USAID LAVI.
Also giving remarks, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy in Monrovia, Alyson Grunder stressed that the road in seeking a comprehensive will be “a hilly journey.”
“By that I mean that together you will go up hills and down hills, through tunnels and over bridges,” she explained.
She went on to say that amendments to statutes, legislative measures, constitutional reform, and public referendums could be on the horizon and will present significant political and logistical challenges for authorities and their development partners.
She stressed that a fundamental principle of this process is inclusivity.
“Inclusive governance is essential in maintaining the health of Liberia’s democracy and peace as the country continues to consolidate hard-won gains achieved since the end of civil war,” she said.