2023 Elections are critical test for Liberian Democracy
…says USAID Mission Director at the official launch of LIDEO Activity
The USAID Mission Director, Jim Wright, has said the 2023 October presidential and legislative Elections represent a critical test for Liberian democracy.
According to Mr. Wright, it is the first time since the end of the civil war that Liberia will independently lead the entire election cycle-from voter registration to actual voting, and counting of ballots.
He pointed out that successful elections in October will help Liberia build on its hard-won post-civil war democracy.
‘‘It is important, therefore that the entire process strictly adheres to the applicable guidelines and rules, which are fairly enforced. This is the best way to engender public confidence in the election results. And this is why the work that the ECC will be doing is very important,’’ he stated.
Mr. Wright made these comments when he delivered a special remarks at the official launch of the Liberia Independent Domestic Elections Observation(LIDEO) Activity during a press conference held at the Boulevard Palace Hotel, 13th Street, Sinkor, Friday, March 17, 2023.
‘‘Election observer provides a valuable tool for improving the quality of elections. It can expose problems that can be solved even while elections are ongoing. It ensures adherence to ground rules, deters wrongdoing, and builds public trust in the integrity of the electoral processes. We have no doubt that the Elections Coordinating Committee will draw on its vast election observation experience to fairly observe the elections in October so that its reports and recommendations can enjoy the full confidence and support of the Liberian People,’’ Mr. Wright asserted.
Earlier, the USAID Mission Director expressed delight for being part of the official launch of the Liberia Independent Domestic Election Observation Activity, which will be implemented by the ECC.
‘‘Our partnership with the ECC breaks new ground. Never before have we partnered directly with a local organization to implement a project of this scale and scope in Liberia. This partnership is a product of USAID’s new localization initiative. Put simply, this initiative recognizes that we need to intentionally integrate the invaluable insights of local partnerships into our work. The development results we produce are therefore likely to be more effective, more resilient, and more equitable when local partners play a lead role in planning our programs, implementing projects, and evaluating progress,’’ the USAID Mission Director accentuated.
‘‘ECC is very qualified to lead the implementation of our election observation project. Since its founding in 2010, the ECC has worked to promote democratic governance in Liberia and built a strong network among donors and civil society organizations. Among ECC’s strength is its commitment to ensuring a fair electoral process and making objective, evidence-based judgments about the conduct of elections. Congratulations to the ECC. You are deserving of this award. But you should know that while working with the United States government is rewarding, it is also challenging. We have strict rules and high expectation of all our partners because Congress hold us accountable for every U.S taxpayer dollar we spent. We expect that ECC will fully comply with those rules as it implements this activity,’’ he added.
Cllr. Oscar Bloh, Chairperson, ECC Board, in his presentation of the Liberia Domestic Election Observation(LIDEO) Activity, announced a partnership with the United States Agency for International Development(USAID) under the project: ‘‘The Liberia Domestic Elections Observation(LIDEO) Activity. The project, which is a Fixed Amount Award from February 28, 2023-August 28, 2025 and is valued at 1,466,745.00 United States Dollars.
Cllr. Bloh disclosed that the overarching goal of the project is to enhance voter confidence in the electoral processes and rules, to the extent warranted, and to mitigate electoral violence and tension, through evidence-based-responsive election observation reporting to the public. This goal is aligned with the ECC’s mission, which is to contribute towards transparent, accountable, credible, and sustainable democratic processes in Liberia. In pursuit of the above goal, the project has two strategic objectives:
Objective One: To increase transparency and strengthen public confidence-to the extent warranted-in the 2023 voter roll and election process, including results.
Objective Two: To promote strengthening of Liberia’s electoral practices and legal framework.
In the implementation of activities, the project will adopt a three-pronged approach: The first approach is to increase citizens’ confidence in the electoral process and its outcome through the observation of the various components of the electoral cycle and releasing timely information to the public on the findings. The second approach is stakeholders’ engagements, which include establishing and maintaining strategic relationships with diverse stakeholders including NEC, political parties, security sector and the media. These engagements are intended to share information, collective problem-solving and to harness the efforts of all stakeholders to contribute to a free, fair and credible election. The third approach is electoral reforms advocacy. This will include consultations with stakeholders on reforms that need to take place based on their experience of participating in the 2023 elections as well as the outcomes of the ECC’s observation efforts. The ECC will deploy 92 Long Term Observers(LTOs), which includes 19 County Coordinators and 73 Electoral Districts Supervisors. In addition to the LTOs, the ECC will deploy 1,200 Short Term Observers on election day. ECC has outlined the following key activities to achieve the strategic objectives outlined above and they include: Establishing ECC Data Center-ECC will use the Apollo Database Management System, which will allow observers to transmit real-time observation data through SMS using coded texts, which will be collated and analyzed to produce updates/reports. Observation of the Biometric Voter Registration Exercise and the Exhibition including claims and objections. Observation of the primaries of political parties. Observation of the campaign to ensure that political parties and Independent candidates are in compliance with the laws and regulations. Observation of the election day. Observation of the adjudication of electoral petitions. Compilation of comprehensive technical observation report and Electoral Reforms Advocacy.
The ECC values the partnership with USAID and extends heartfelt appreciation to the American People for their continuous support to civil society organizations such as the ECC to enable us to provide and independent view and assessment on the credibility of the conduct of elections in Liberia. This helps to sustain and consolidate Liberia’s democratic gains and to improve the quality of our democracy. We will work in close collaboration with the international observation groups such as the Electoral Institute of South Africa(EISA) and the national observation group such as the Liberia Elections Observation Network(LEON). We are proud of the trust reposed in us as a partner and we can assure USAID and the tax payers of America that the resources to the ECC will be managed and used in an effective, efficient, professional and transparent manner.