The National Democratic Institute or NDI has cautioned here that Liberia faces serious developmental challenges that have the propensity to hinder the upcoming representative and presidential elections in October.
The NDI says poor infrastructure particularly in rural areas, lack of a national identification system, and difficult macroeconomic trends, including dissatisfaction with some elected officials and government service delivery may affect voters’ enthusiasm during the time of election.
Addressing a news conference over the weekend at the Boulevard Palace in Sinkor, Monrovia NDI Regional Director for Cameroon, Mr. Christopher Fomunyoh said, lingering grievances that persist from previous election-related disputes will cause the National Elections Commission and national security agencies to face challenges in effectively carrying out their responsibilities in light of diminished international assistance.
Mr. Fomunyoh said the current voter registration process is the first phase, and the foundation upon which credible elections are built, and also the first impression of the 2017 electoral process, which is likely to influence how citizens would untimely view the legitimacy of the outcome.
The NDI Regional Director noted that his institution came up with those findings as the result of an assessment conducted by high-power delegation that visited Liberia.
He narrated that the purpose of the delegation was to assess preparations for the October 2017 elections, including the ongoing voter registration process, and to support efforts to conduct peaceful and credible polls.
“Some Liberians with whom our delegation spoke with claimed that logistical and technical glitches in some locations was the cause of the slowness, and delay of the registration process, including the mal-functioning of cameras, late opening and early closing, and poorly trained staff, this may negatively impact citizens’ efforts to register”, Mr. Fomunhyoh said.
Also briefing reporters, the former Secretary of the U.S. State of Missouri and member of the NDI board of directors Madam Robin Carnahan said, the degree of success of Liberia’s voter registration process is dependent, amongst other things, the quality of voter’s education, but unfortunately, the NEC voter’s education campaign was not initiated in time, which hinders civil society’s ability to educate voter about the exercise.
Madam Carnahan said though the NEC is being regarded by most electoral stakeholders as an independent and impartial institution, against this it must demonstrate genuine political will to hold elections that will reflect the will of the people, platforms for inter-party dialogue, as well as other important things.
By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne