The Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa or EISA, an international elections observer team here is recommending to the Government of Liberia, including the National Legislature to enact laws and implement measures that would increase political participation of disadvantaged groups.
EISA wants seats reserved in the House of Representatives for women, youth and people living with disabilities in line with the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa.
Giving its preliminary statement at the Boulevard Hotel in a Monrovia suburb of Sinkor, on the 2017 Presidential and Representatives Elections conducted Tuesday, 10 October across Liberia, head of the observation team, Dr. Aminata Toure, who is former Prime Minister of the Republic of Senegal, also recommends a need to consider amending the law to provide for the conduct of elections during dry season as opposed to the rainy season here, and to engage the youth by instilling in them values of democratic political culture in the form of long-term citizenship education.
The Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa deploys 14 experienced observers to Liberia, representing civil society and election management bodies from 12 African countries. The EISA mission observes polls conducted in five counties here, including Bong, Nimba, Grand Bassa, Montserrado and Grand Cape Mount, respectively.
“Covering only the electoral process up to the voting and counting procedures of the polling places, this preliminary assessment of the 10 October 2017 Presidential and House of Representatives elections by the EISA observer mission concludes that process thus far has been peaceful and largely conducted in a transparent manner, allowing Liberian voters to freely express their will”, the statement says.
The mission is of the opinion that this phase of the electoral process has been largely in conformity with the laws of Liberia and with international, continental and sub-regional standards for credible elections, but notes a number of shortcomings and therefore recommends for improvement of future elections.
According to Dr. Amanita Tourna notes that the provision in section 4.4(1b) and (1c) of the new elections law as amended, that 30% of a party’s candidates should be female is not mandatory, and that despite exhortations from the NEC, only two political parties succeeded in having a minimum of 30% women as candidates, adding that only one out of 20 presidential candidates is a woman and only six out of 20 vice-presidential aspirants were females.
She thanks political parties for using females as observers and also notes that majority of the NEC staffs during the process were males, while party agents and candidate agents were able to monitor all phases on Election Day and were present at an average of 10 agents per polling place.
She continues that despite the delays in delivering key element of the electoral calendar such as promulgation of regulations, voter registration and nomination of candidates, the NEC endeavored to fulfill its legal mandate. “Whilst noting the concerns raised by stakeholders regarding the numbers of excess ballot printed by the NEC, the EISA EOM observed that on Election Day there were appropriate procedures for reconciliation to account for the handling and safe storage of the unused ballots in the post-election period.”
The mission notes that although Article 83 of the Constitution of Liberia requires parties to submit assets and liability statement on an annual basis, for the sake of transparency, most political parties failed to comply accordingly.
By Sally Gaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne