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ECC seeks reforms of Liberia’s electoral law

By Naneka A. Hoffman

A Liberian election observatory body is recommending changes in the nation’s election laws.  

Monrovia, Liberia, June 4, 2024—The Election Coordinating Committee (ECC), a Liberian election observatory body, advances nine-count recommendations to reform the country’s electoral law and improve internal democratization. 

The Chairperson of the ECC, Cllr. Oscar Bloh proposes, among other things, that the Act that created the Governance Commission be amended to give the GC oversight of political party operations in the country, including registration, resolution of intra-party grievances, nomination of candidates, and financial resources and management.

Counselor Bloh made the recommendations recently when the ECC released its official publication on final technical observation reports and findings from the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections.

He says that to ensure increased women’s participation, the election law of Liberia should be amended to make it mandatory for political parties, coalitions, or alliances to have no less than 30 percent of either gender on their list for the nomination of candidates.

“The government establishes an escrow account one year before the conduct of the next general election, where resources can be disbursed ahead of these elections so that activities are implemented by NEC promptly,” the ECC further recommends.

According to Chairman Bloh, the 55th Legislature should use the 2023 census report to set a new threshold for the National Elections Commission to use to delimit electoral constituency boundaries.

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“International development partners strengthen the capacity of domestic election observatory groups to observe, document, and analyze campaign finance abuse,” the report adds.

The ECC wants candidate registration to be decentralized so that those interested in participating in future elections do not have to come to Monrovia to register. 

“The NEC amended the campaign regulation to make debates mandatory, particularly for presidential candidates, because this amendment will foster and increase issue-based campaigns and reduce the culture of personality politics that has characterized Liberia’s political process, especially during the election period.” 

Counselor Bloh added that the electoral authority should make progress towards introducing a passive voter registration system so that voters are automatically registered when they reach voting age or when they move to another place. 

The ECC suggested that the national legislature amend the national electoral law to make vote-buying an electoral offense with clearly defined sanctions. 

According to the recommendations, aspirant nomination and registration should be transparent to enable electoral observation groups to observe every stage of the nomination process and independently verify whether aspirants comply with the requirements set by the national electoral laws. 

The ECC also demanded that the NEC conduct a comprehensive assessment of the physical infrastructures of all voting precincts to ensure that the structures allow for the orderly intake and exit of voters and are easily accessible to voters who are physically challenged and visually impaired.

The electoral observation body is also requesting an amendment of campaign finance regulation to include a provision that will require NEC to build strategic partnerships with other governmental institutions, such as the financial intelligence unit and private banks, for information sharing and cooperative actions to improve monitoring and enforcement of campaign finance rules and regulations.

ECC wants NEC to audit finances and financial transactions of political parties and independent candidates in keeping with Article 81(C) of the Liberian Constitution. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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