MONROVIA – The Liberia Peacebuilding Office in Liberia concluded a weeklong conference on electoral integrity last Friday. The forum brought together local and international partners, the National Elections Commission, political parties, and civil society organizations to discuss the importance of electoral integrity.
By Henry Karmo [email protected]
The forum also featured local and international speakers who addressed various topics, including the role of the media, protection of women from electoral violence, human rights and elections, and people-centered elections, among others.
Stakeholders, especially political parties at the forum, committed to a peaceful electoral process but warned that the NEC must ensure that the elections are characterized by nothing but integrity and credibility.
The overall objective of the conference is to inspire action among different political parties and their supporters, the National Elections Commission, the government, and other democratic institutions to ensure credibility and integrity during various phases of the electoral process. These phases range from party primaries and rallies to campaigning, candidate nomination, voter registration, observation, regular feedback through the media, and party agent accreditation, among others.
Speaking on Tuesday, September 26, 2023, at the start of the conference, Mr. Edward Mulbah, Executive Director of the Liberia Peacebuilding Office, stated that the central thrust of the conference is to complement foundational processes and initiatives geared towards promoting electoral credibility and integrity. He also emphasized that the long-term goal of the high-level National Conference is to further strengthen efforts toward Liberia’s democracy for a united and prosperous Liberia.
Mr. Mulbah explained, “It is against this backdrop that a group of Liberians, both here and in the diaspora, consulted five months ago and subsequently engaged the UN, ECOWAS, and the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue to convene a high-level National conference that brings together different stakeholders to discuss various aspects and processes of our elections.”
The conference will benefit from speakers from Nigeria, Kenya, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Ghana, and Liberia. These speakers will share various perspectives, lessons (whether positive or negative), and best practices from different contexts and challenges.
At the conclusion of the conference on the third day, political parties and the National Elections Commission will reaffirm their commitments and pledge to uphold the principles of electoral integrity, credibility, and the rule of law for a free, fair, transparent, and peaceful 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections.
Madam Catherine Rodriguez, Charge d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Liberia, also addressed the gathering and challenged political parties and their leaders to ensure peaceful and credible elections by complying with electoral laws and encouraging their followers to reject violent rhetoric.
She stated, “The United States, as a longstanding partner of Liberia, is committed to supporting democracy. Through USAID, we are directly supporting both international and domestic election observer missions, along with other international partners as we deploy observation teams throughout the country.”
Madam Rodriguez also called on the National Elections Commission to provide unrestricted access to polling stations on Election Day, as well as access to the vote tallying process. According to her, the government, political parties, and the NEC play crucial roles in ensuring the success of the October elections.
She concluded, saying, “I have been inspired by the incredible work that ordinary Liberians are doing to make the elections peaceful and successful. I am particularly impressed by the actions taken by the nation’s youth.