Local and international observers who monitored the 2017 Presidential and Representatives Elections conducted across Liberia on Tuesday, 10 October are advancing several recommendations to the Government of Liberia, particularly the National Elections Commission for execution to enhance conduct of future elections here.
For instance, the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa or EISA, an international elections observation mission recommends that the Government of Liberia thru the National Legislature should enact laws and implement measures that would increase political participation of disadvantaged groups.
The EISA specifically 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. In its preliminary statement on the 2017 Presidential and Representatives Elections delivered at the Boulevard Hotel in Sinkor, Monrovia, the head of the observation team, Dr. Aminata Toure, who is former Prime Minister of the Republic of Senegal, also recommends a need to amend 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 with emphasis on long-term citizenship education.
At the same time, a Liberian electoral group – the Elections Coordinating Commission (ECC) cites serious administrative and technical lapses from last Tuesday’s polls, noting that there were inconsistencies in how National Elections Commission staffs addressed the issue of voters’ names missing from the Final Voter Roll.
ECC Chairman Oscar Bloh notes that some polling places did not have adequate lights, which led to additional delays in the counting process and increases the potential for human error. Mr. Bloh reports that records of the counted forms were not systematically posted on the wall of the polling places after the completion of the counting process.
“Polling staff should also receive timely, clear, and consistent instruction in these procedures. Update logistics plans to ensure a timely delivery of all elections materials. Ensure voters are informed about the runoff elections. Consider relocating congested polling precincts to other locations that will facilitate the free flow of voters,” he recommends, while the European Union Elections Observation Mission here urges political parties and officials of the National Elections Commission to keep the positive role and ensure the will of voters is reflected in the poll results.
An EU’s statement issued on Wednesday, 12 October in Monrovia indicates that Liberian voters have shown strong desire to be part of the democratic process by their participation in great numbers in the polls. “Political parties and the election administration should keep their positive role and ensure the will of the voters is reflected in the elections results. Also, the notable efforts made by the Liberian observers organizations show commitment to ensuring the transparency of the elections,” says Maria Arena, Chief Observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission and member of the European Parliament.
We call on the Government of Liberia and relevant authorities, including the NEC to seriously take these concerns into consideration and act accordingly to address lapses identified from the polls in order to improve conduct of future elections in the country.
This does not in any way imply that the NEC on the whole did not do a good job. On the contrary, both the commission and the entire voting population, including political parties and candidates behaved excellently that led us to a successful electoral process on Tuesday, but like it is in any human endeavor, there is always room for improvement. Therefore, we believe strongly that heeding recommendations advanced by the observers would go a long way in not just strengthening our democratic process but making it more participatory as possible.