Monrovia – A consortium of Liberian media and leading civil society organizations has announced the hosting of two major presidential debates for all candidates ahead of the October 10, 2023 polls. The initiative is part of support for electoral democracy in Liberia.
Funded by USAID Media Activity, the presidential debate seeks to promote informed decision-making, enhance electoral transparency, foster civic engagement, facilitate policy analysis, and ensure equal representation of all candidates.
The two debates will be held on October 3rd and October 6th. The October 3rd edition of the debate will be held at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Ministerial Complex in Monrovia, while the Gbarnga Administration Building in Bong County will host the October 6th debate.
All 20 presidential candidates certified by the National Elections Commission (NEC) to contest the October 10 polls have been officially invited to attend these debates. Ten candidates will feature in the first phase of the debate in Monrovia while the other 10 will participate in the second phase in Gbarnga.
“The USAID Media Activity facilitates the presidential debate to support the electoral process and ensure informed decision-making by the Liberian people,” said Lien Bach, Chief of Party for Internews, speaking on behalf of the debate-organizing Consortium that includes the Liberia Media for Democratic Initiatives (LMDI), the Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP), the Amos C. Sawyer Foundation, the Association of Community Radios (ALICOR), Local Voices Liberia, and the Female Journalists Association of Liberia (FeJAL), amongst others.
Madam Bach emphasized that the debates would help “increase the engagement of citizens in the elections, and bring about improved election processes that ensure trust in the future and promote a peaceful election.”
These presidential debates offer the opportunity for citizens to learn about the candidates’ positions on key issues, their policy proposals, and their vision for the future, enabling citizens to make informed choices during the elections. It also enhances electoral transparency and encourages accountability, by creating a public forum for candidates to discuss their platforms, defend their positions, and address voters’ concerns.
The Consortium of media and civil society organizations is also optimistic that the presidential debates will support civic engagement and promote voter participation, by offering a platform for increased interaction between the candidates and the public.
At the same time, the debate will also facilitate policy analysis by encouraging critical examination of candidates’ policy proposals and allowing voters to compare and evaluate candidates’ ideas, plans, and strategies for the future. The debates will provide fair and equal opportunities for all candidates, regardless of their political affiliation, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic background.
“Electoral debates play a crucial role in promoting informed decision-making, fostering transparency, and engaging citizens in the democratic process. The debate will provide a platform for open discussion, policy analysis, and voter education,” said Ms. Bach.
The two debates will be broadcast live on several radio stations nationwide and livestreamed on social media (Facebook) to ensure that all Liberians, home and abroad, may follow the candidates speaking on critical national issues.