By Kruah Thompson
The conspicuous absence of international observers in various polling places throughout Grand Bassa County, particularly Bigjo Town and Daybay’s Town in District 5, during Tuesday, 10 October 2023 elections across the country has drawn public attention, despite the deployment of observer missions from prominent organizations such as the European Union, the African Union, ECOWAS and the United States here.
International observers have traditionally played a vital role in ensuring integrity and transparency during electoral process in Liberia.
Their presence is instrumental in preventing electoral irregularities and providing impartial validation of the voting process. However, on October 10, 2023, Bassa witnessed a notable absence of international observers.
Nevertheless, the polling center in Bigjo Town benefited from the presence of two local independent observer groups: the Election Coordination Committee (ECC) observers and the Liberia Elections Observation Network (LEON).
LEON is a coalition of four Liberian Civil Society Organizations that includes the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), Liberia Crusaders for Peace (LCP), Federation of Liberia Youth (FLY), and National Union of Organizations for the Disabled (NUOD).
Its overarching objective is to actively contribute to Liberia’s democratization process by engaging civil society in monitoring and observing the election process, with a special focus on marginalized groups, including women, youth, and persons with disabilities.
Conversely, the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) is Liberia’s domestic election observation network with expertise in democracy, elections, and governance.
Established since 2010, ECC’s members comprise the Center for Democratic Governance (CDG), Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP), Center for Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding (CECPAP), Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD), Naymote Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE-PADD), West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP), and the Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL), amongst other.
The ECC’s election observation is sponsored by the American people via the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Irish Aid.
Despite the absence of International Observers during the election in Grand Bassa, authorities in the county are yet to issue a formal statement on the matter.
On September 9, 2023, a team of 20 EU Long-Term Observers set off from Montserrado to the rest of Liberia for their Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to monitor the poll.
The EU Observers are an impartial and independent body that monitors electoral processes and provides objective assessments.
However, despite this objective, there were no international observers present during the electoral process on October 10, in Grand Bassa County. Editing by Jonathan Browne