LIBERIA: TRAINING CSOS TO MITIGATE ELECTORAL VIOLENCE

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As the country reaches a crucial stage of its electoral cycle amid rising violence, the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) has begun a three-day training of heads of civil society organizations on electoral dispute management and response designing.

The training, which kicked off Tuesday, August 15, 2023, is under the Electoral Violence, Monitoring and Mitigation (E-MAM) project for the ensuing Presidential and Legislative Elections.

Speaking at the start of the training, Philip M. Kollie, National Network Coordinator of WANP-Liberia, said the ongoing training is part of the “good” initiatives by the organization that aim to contribute to peaceful elections in Liberia.

“It is a process that paves the way for us to work together as Liberians to address electoral violence. The need to conduct free and fair elect is critical,” he told the gathering.

With its presence in 11 of 15 countries in the sub region, Mr. Kollie maintained that WANEP’s utmost goal is to seek means that contribute to the prevention of electoral violence across West Africa through collaborative effort with CSOs and by strengthening their capacity.

Atty. Tonieh Tarley Wiles, Board Chair of WANEP-Liberia, stressed the need for collaborative efforts to address the current hurdles that the country is faced with.

“We are hopeful to overcome those hurdles when we work together. This is a critical year for Liberia and we must thank our regional partners for the support,” Atty. Wiles indicated.

Dr. Nathaniel Walker of the ECOWAS Commission, lauded WANEP for the initiative and committed ECOWAS’ support to supporting initiatives that support peace in Liberia, especially for the ensuing elections.

“Continue the great job and ECOWAS will stand with you. We are watching the triggers keenly. These activities are aimed at ending electoral violence. This is part of the process of the work in enhancing peace and this is why the role of CSO remains vital. Let me use this medium to inform you that the Draft Report of the ECOWAS facts finding mission is out and would be released soon,” Walker disclosed.

Also in remarks, Madam Jocita Korkoyah, Program Officer of elections observatory group, Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC), described the training as critical for Liberians and CSO who are the watchdogs.

According to her, the holding of peaceful elections is our ultimate goal of all Liberians and as such, everyone must work towards it.

Dr. Lenka Homolkova of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) craved the important role of CSOs in ending electoral violence taking into consideration of the current state of affairs.

“Unfortunately we have seen some cases of electoral violence. CSO role is critical to ending electoral violence. It’s important to note the low number of candidate females in these elections and the way they have already being disadvantaged by this violence. They can’t compete on equal basis, because they are afraid of violence,” she indicated.

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