The Liberian media has been urged to promote and self-regulate adherence to the media code of conduct during this election process. “Report only verified information, discourage inciteful language and dispel rumors” members of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) pre-election assessment delegation said in a statement issued Monday September 11 following a five day visit here.
The group also admonished the local media to clearly distinguish between articles written by journalists, editorials, and materials that are produced by outside sources and published for a fee.
The delegation headed by Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Member of Board of Directors, NDI (United States ) acknowledged that the October 10 elections mark an historic milestone for the country and that it promises to be the first peaceful, democratic transfer of power from one elected president to another.
The NDI delegation said ensuring the trust of the voters requires transparency, inclusivity, accountability, continuous engagement and communication from all electoral stakeholders.
“The people and institutions of Liberia are taking the lead in consolidating democratic progress,” said Ambassador Carson. “The delegation believes that the success of these elections will hinge on whether voters have confidence in the process and that, ultimately, their will is reflected in the outcome.”
The delegation met with numerous stakeholders throughout the course of the week, including representatives of the National Elections Commission (NEC), presidential and legislative candidates, political leaders, civil society representatives, and members of the international community.
The delegation also met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
“There may still be logistical challenges with these elections,” said Hanna Tetteh, former Minister for Foreign Affairs and Member of Parliament (Ghana), “especially because of the state of infrastructure during the current rainy season. However, the Liberians we spoke with are enthusiastic about the elections and have faith in their ability to determine the outcome.”
Other members of the delegation included Dr. Tadjoudine Ali-Diabacte, former Deputy Director of the Electoral Assistance Division, United Nations (Togo); Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh, Regional Director, NDI (Cameroon); Samantha Smoot, Observation Mission Director, NDI (United States); and Michael McNulty, Senior Program Manager, NDI (United States).
The delegation also recommends that the National Elections Commission or NEC provide the complete Final Registration Roll in machine-readable format to political parties and accredited international and citizen election observers, as a further means of ensuring the integrity of the voters list.
“Make the Final Registration Roll available by September 10toprovidesufficientopportunityfor voters to verify their status and check their details,” the NDI delegation said.
The group further noted that NEC ensures election results are transmitted securely from magisterial offices to NEC headquarters and are announced in timely, transparent manner. Following Election Day, provide polling-place level results on NEC’s website in a timely manner, as planned.
The group called on political parties and candidates to adhere to the Farmington River Declaration and the Ganta Declaration and promote and ensure peaceful conduct among candidates and supporters.
They said in the process of collecting information from party agents in the polling stations, parties should take caution not to usurp the NEC’s responsibility for announcing official election results.
The group also urged political parties to raise awareness of and express zero tolerance for violence against women in the electoral process, including towards female candidates.