The National Elections Commission (NEC) with funding from the UNDP Elections Basket Fund has ended the second leg of regional consultations on Electoral Law Reform in Gbarnga, Bong County.UNDP Elections Project with subsidy from donor partners, European Union, Irish Aid, Canada and the government of Sweden through its Embassy near Monrovia, supports the National Elections Commission’s rollout of a nationwide consultation to reform provisions of the elections Law of Liberia.At the two days occasion from September 11-12 in Gbarnga, more than 150 participants representing a cross section of Liberian society from Bong, Lofa and Nimba Counties were in attendance.
The overall objective of the Electoral Reform is to ultimately improve the administration of elections in Liberia.
The conduct of the 2017 Presidential and Representative Elections is being used as a case study to further instrument the views of major stakeholders to derive prepositions and proposals that will strengthen the reform process.Observations and recommendations are being solicited from citizens and major stakeholders across different spheres of the society to effect the reforms necessary to improve the process.
They include government entities, civil society organizations, youth and women groups, local government administrations, traditional leaders, people living with disability, faith – based institutions, students, teachers as well as national and international organizations.
The consultations follow the conclusion of an awareness campaign on the electoral reform process in June of this year and are designed to be an inclusive exercise that captures the views, observations of the Country.
During the occasion, participants articulated their opinions on the electoral processes of Liberia and further made recommendations to stakeholders which will contribute to a change they want.In their recommendations, they agreed that the election’s date should be changed from the rainy season to the dry season to afford everyone the opportunity to fully participate in the process.
They said as a result of the rain, many of the citizens do not partake in elections due to bad road conditions.
The citizens also recommended that the Civic and Voter Education (CVE) be placed under a specific body instead of the NEC, as doing so will help make the Commission’s works easier.
Bong County Kokoyah District Statutory Superintendent ContehYallah observes that due to its busy schedules, the NEC does not do much in conducting CVE awareness, citing it as a cause for lots of invalid votes during elections here.“For me, I think the government needs to put that under different group of people or it be added to the National Curriculum so that children who are going to school can get the clear understanding of the electoral laws of the Country,” Yallah says.
Also speaking, Lofa County Superintendent Mr. William TambaKamba recommends that a specific seat be given for the physically challenged community.“The disable too need seats at the Legislature, so the NEC should come up with a policy that will give them chance to have seats in both the Houses of Representatives and Senate,” he adds.
For his part, Nimba County Superintendent Dor Cooper urges members of the Legislature to ensure that all of the propositions recommended by the citizens are adhered to before the 2023 general elections.“We don’t want us to just say these things and it be the end. We want our leaders to implement them because it will help all of our people and Liberia will be a better place,” he concludes.By Joseph Titus Yekeryan in Bong –Edited by Winston W. Parley