A group of Liberians under the banner Liberian Association of Abuja or LAA recently pleaded with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Abuja for the Government of Liberia to devise a mechanism that would enable Liberians in the Diasporas to participate in elections back home thru online or electronic means.
They made the appeal during President Sirleaf’s visit to the Federal Republic of Nigeria recently to meet with her counterpart, Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria. The President of the Liberian Association in Abuja, Garrison Thomas, said Liberians in the Diasporas really desire to exercise their political franchise during elections just as other countries in the subregion accord similar privilege to their nationals residing abroad.
We believe the appeal coming from our fellow compatriots deserve consideration, but in order to have this practicalize, it would require serious planning with financial support to have in place the necessary logistics and technology that would ensure free, fair and transparent voting outside the country.
It behooves the National Elections Commission to give such feasibility a thorough thought and come up with what it would require to airlift ballot papers, ballot boxes, staff and perhaps observers to countries that have huge Liberians presence such as Nigeria, Ghana, and the United States to widen the democratic space.
This will require long-term planning, bringing onboard our international partners and friendly governments such as Liberia’s traditional and historic friend, America. Democratic elections are among the cardinal pillars on which a truly representative government derives its power to govern, and anything that is deemed necessary to advance or enhance such process should be cherished by all.
We stand to gain so much as a nation if we make our voting process as very participatory as possible by encouraging all Liberians both at home and in the Diasporas to participate in electing their leaders. By doing this, they would have an obligation to making sure the government elected, delivers on its promises.
The plead by the LAA should be taken in good faith as we believe it is in no way intended to put one politician above the other or give one candidate an advantage over the in an election. What this does is to open up the sample space for those aspiring for leadership, particularly the presidency to get themselves across to the electorates both in the Diasporas and at home.
Too often after elections, the President-elect upon inauguration visit abroad to meet with fellow Liberians to thank them for their moral support and to ask them to return home and join the national building process though they have no direct involvement in the electoral process.
We can reverse this by giving all of our citizens, no matter which part of the globe they may reside, an opportunity to choose who to lead the Motherland like it’s being done in other countries because by this we all would have a stake in the governing process and the future of our nation. The NEC should consider this as a food for thought.