On Friday, February 19, 2016, the headquarters of the National Elections Commission or NEC played host to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding or MOU aimed at encouraging and promoting consensus-building between and among political parties and the NEC, through the February 2005 institutional framework known and referred to as the Inter-Party Consultative Committee IPCC.
The MOU reached between the Commission and 20 registered Liberian political parties also creates the environment for structured and multi-party dialogue between political parties and the commission on issues concerning the organization and conduct of elections, general electoral environment, as well as advances the efforts of the IPCC through the establishment of an inter-party dialogue environment for political parties.
While Liberian political parties and NEC will identify the gaps and shortcomings of the laws and procedures governing the electoral process and adopt a consultative and proactive approach in making suggestions for improvements under the terms of the MOU, one cardinal issue emphasized by the agreement is the promulgation of a new code of conduct to guide the behaviour of political parties and their supporters before, during, and after elections.
Considering the history of our elections and political parties, enshrining such provision in the MOU was an important and rewarding decision for peace and security. It is our only hope that with such understanding reached between the National Elections Commission and political parties, supporters and sympathizers of the former will also benefit from whatever civil and political education as provided for under the terms of the memorandum.
While we are of the strongest conviction that our electoral politics is on the right trajectory, it is now incumbent on Liberian political leaders and party executives to make it their business to ensure adequately information and education on the election laws, the Constitution of Liberia and just-signed MOU, through sensitization/awareness among their partisans and sympathizers across Liberia.
We are of the fervent belief that with such sensitization/awareness among partisans and sympathizers, political/electoral violence will be curtailed during our elections. Liberian political leaders and party executives must now understand that posterity would judge them as a result of their inability or failure to meet up with their part of the bargain as emphasized in the preceding paragraphs.
The National Elections Commission and local and international partners must also be hailed for the February 19, 2016 Forum, which culminated into the signing of last Friday’s Memorandum of Understanding. We can only hope that the execution of this MOU will not only be characterized by the highest degree of sincerity on the part of all parties, but go a long way in establishing a civilize political culture wherein the appropriate channels will be pursued in the event of problems arising out of our electoral process – especially next year’s general and presidential elections.