On Monday January 10, about 1,780 voters’ registration centers across the country were expected to open their doors to potential voters ahead of the 2011 referendum, presidential and legislative elections. The event was characterized by a float and parades on the principle streets of Monrovia, all with one message, “register to vote.”
About 2.9 million people are expected to participate in the elections, according to the electoral body, the National Elections Commission or NEC, out of a population of 3.5 million as the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services or LIGIS put it in 2008. Many of the potential voters would be voting for the first time in their lives.
NEC has assured the population that it is ever ready in terms of logistics and man power to carry out the voters’ registration exercise. “NEC has trained and deployed 7,120 Registrars, Clerks, Shaders and Camera Operators/Inkers across the country,” NEC’s Chair James Fromayan was quoted as telling local journalists Sunday ahead of the start of the exercise which is expected to last up to February 6.
“The training was conducted by 400 Electoral Supervisors under the watchful eyes of Elections Magistrates, Assistant Magistrates, Regional Coordinators, Regional Officers, County Coordinators and support staff from Headquarter,” he noted.
In terms of material preparedness, the NEC Chair said the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) here has hired and placed at the disposal of the NEC 56 trucks, 110 vehicles (Jeeps and Pick-ups) to facilitate the movement of personnel and materials.
“The Commission has also hired 3 trucks, 17 additional vehicles and purchased 38 Motor Cycles out of its budgetary allocation to meet the logistical demand for the VR exercise,” he noted.
Fromayan indicated that, both NEC and its partners have made available a total of 59 trucks, 127 vehicles and 38 Motor Cycles to convey personnel and materials to the 1, 780 VR Centers. “In addition to these, the Commission will utilize the services of over 600 potters to transport materials to areas that are unreachable by car.”
All of these are welcoming development indicating that all is on course for the voters’ registration exercise, which is the first step toward the 2011 showdown. But it requires the efforts of every Liberian to make the process a success by making it a national duty go and register.
This is what qualifies an individual to exercise his/her franchise. The opportunity is now or never. Therefore it is also incumbent on political, religious and social leaders to encourage their members to take advantage of the process to enable them to have a say in the national process. We hope that with the material and logistical support NEC claims to have received, it does not come up with excuses, while admitting to irregularities in the process.
However, what is also of concern to The New Dawn is the availability of the needed resources for the conduct of the exercise. NEC says it needs a total of US49 million for the conduct of the referendum, presidential and legislative elections. We therefore call on all relevant institutions to make good their pledges to enable the process advance to the next level.
This is the time and season, for Liberians to consolidate their infant democracy and the only way to move forward is to have all hands on deck, which includes its partners both foreign and domestic. We say hats off to institutions that have already made their contribution and to those who are yet to convert their pledges we say thank you for heeding to our call. Let us make the 2011 elections a success.