-as UNDP, USAID, EU, call for social media networking
Presidential hopefuls Counselor Charles Walker of the Liberty Party (LP) and Senator George Mannah Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has been paired in a national debate here, ahead of the October elections in many say is a mismatch as the CDC leader had never availed himself for any public debate.
NAYMOTE, a local non-governmental organization partnering with the National Elections Commission (NEC), European Union (EU), USAID, UNDP, and other groups, disclosed that it has organized the 2017 National Presidential Election Debate amongst political contestants in the country.
Breaking news about the National Debate over the weekend at its headquarters in Paynesville City outside Monrovia, NAYMOTE Executive Director Mr. Eddie D. Jarwolo, said the CDC and the LP would come face-to-face in the debate.
He said the second political debate would be between the ruling Unity Party (UP) and the Liberia Transformation Party (LTP) to scrutinize the political records of would-be contestants before Liberians can go to the poll in October to elect their next President and representatives.
Mr. Jarwolo added that NAYMOTE is working with international partners supporting the electoral process to ensure transparency during the National Election Debate. He expressed optimism that with the support of partners the process would be free, fair and transparent.
The NAYMOTE boss said the launch of the “Liberia Decides”, a non-partisan social media campaign is intended to promote young people and marginalized groups’ participation and voices in Liberia’s electoral process.
According to him, the program will inform and mobilize voters in remote communities through mobile phone calls and texting as well as create virtual opportunities for young people to discuss and feedback on the elections, including candidates and party manifestos.
He said statistics shows that NAYMOTE has reached 11,443 persons, hopingthat Liberians, especially young people who are first time voters will take advantage of the pending voter’s registration exercise which will enable them to participate in the elections.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Deputy Country Director for Programme Mr. Cleophas Torori said, in order to have peaceful elections in Liberia, Liberians need to work tirelessly to defeat the negative intent of others using the social media to spread lies, false information, insults against contestants during the 2017 presidential and legislative elections.
He warned that the spread of false information about the electoral participants would deprive people intending to participate in the process from voting, urging the youth to resist violence to ensure free, fair and transparent elections.
USAID Deputy Director, Mr. Jeremy D. Meadows, said to have level playing field in the elections, stakeholders should have a joint social media networking or coordination in reaching hundreds of first time voters across the country.
The USAID Deputy boss recommends that the social media elections campaign information should be passed on to young people at various intellectual centers across the country to enable them make inform decision in October.
European Union Political Counselor Emma Sundbland, who also spoke at the occasion, made similar call on facebook users to be aware of individuals, whose true intent is to cause confusion by spreading misinformation to Liberian voters, which should not be given credence.
By Emmanuel Mondaye -Editing by Jonathan Browne