By Lincoln G. Peters
The Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) through its Elections Observation Mission (EISA-EOM) has made several recommendations to the Liberian Government on election-related issues.
Zambia’s former Vice President Dr. Nevers Mumba urged the government to explore the possibility of legally moving election day to a time frame that does not coincide with the rainy season.
Dr. Mumba urged the need to reduce logistical challenges and risks while facilitating voter participation.
“Enforce the rules in the election law by prosecuting offences such as voter trucking,” said Dr. Mumba.
“To the NEC [National Elections Commission], strengthen public communications with emphasis on key processes making it more proactive, timely and precise,” said Dr. Mumba.
Dr. Mumba urged that the NEC collaborate with civil society organizations (CSOs) to improve the conduct of civic and voter education.
Meanwhile, EISA-EOM has extolled the NEC for the peaceful conduct of the October 10 polls despite being under difficult condition.
EISA-IEOM led 32 election observers from 20 African countries in Liberia to monitor, assess, and report on all phases of the electoral process by International and Regional benchmarks.
Additionally, the IEOM is implemented in close coordination with the financial support of USAID-Liberia and will complement the efforts of other electoral stakeholders.
The project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa.
The USAID-funded EISA-IEOM Activity seeks to enhance the integrity of the 2023 presidential and legislative elections in Liberia through the deployment of an independent international election observer mission (EOM)
Also, the objective and purpose of EISA observers in Liberia are to observe the final days of political campaigning, the final deployment of sensitive and non-sensitive election material, the voting day procedure, and the result tallying.
Reading the group’s preliminary report on Liberia’s presidential and legislative elections, Dr. Mumba said based on the EISA-IEOM assessment of the pre-election environment and the reports of its observer teams on election day, the Mission acknowledges the peaceful and enthusiastic participation of Liberians in the electoral process.
In the report’s conclusion, he said voting proceeded without interruption throughout the day, and voters freely expressed their choice.
“The NEC discharged its responsibilities with diligence, often under difficult conditions, and EISA’s observers expressed confidence in the conduct of NEC staff,” he added.
“EISA calls on all stakeholders, supporters, security personnel and the media to sustain the peaceful conduct of election day as the country waits for the tallying process and final announcement of results,” he continued.
Pointing out some areas of improvement, the former Zambia Vice President noted the slow budget release from the National Treasury and infrastructure challenges accentuated by the heavy rainy season as issues that hampered the delivery of election materials.
He cited the lack of a strong legal framework for increased participation of women candidates by political parties.
He also talked about the underrepresentation of young people in elective offices and growing engagement of youths as militants by political parties.
Part of the challenges cited was delay in distributing the Final Registration Roll for public scrutiny and Delay in releasing regulations on collation and tabulation of results.
“Lack of substantial issue-based or policy-focused campaign messages. The widespread misinformation about elections on social media and a 7-weak communication strategy and low visibility of the NEC’s programs,” he noted.
ESIA urged the government to promulgate into law provisions on compulsory gender quotas for female candidates in line with Liberia’s international commitment for affirmative action.
Accordingly, he urged the NEC to replicate the Inter-Party Consultative Committee (IPCC) meetings at the county level as an alternative means of improving knowledge of electoral laws and processes.