Swedish Ambassador to Liberia Lena Nordström, says the world is anticipating a very smooth transition process in Liberia and all of the country’s genuine partners must ensure that this comes to fruition through the conduct of a very successful electoral process.
The comments were made by Ambassador Nordström at the National Elections Commission (NEC), when she spoke Wednesday, December 13, at the signing of a contribution agreement worth US$2.7 million to support Liberia’s 2017 elections.
The Ambassador said the fund will be provided to the NEC through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to focus on civic and voters’ education. Ambassador.Nordström promised that the Swedes would provide every support to Liberia to conduct a very smooth transition process.
She said with the 2017 elections that would eventually see one democratically elected government handing over to another is a very huge task to be undertaken by the NEC. “This is a very huge responsibility and we expect you to do your utmost best to execute this successfully. That can also be done when we, along with other partners, support you with the requisite financial and materials that will enable this to happen,” the female diplomat said.
She added: “We want a very transparent process that everyone will accept; though this is difficult at times, we need to do our best to gain the confidence of the majority of the people.”
She made specific reference to the prioritization of eligible youth and women voters during the civic engagement exercises so that they can be adequately prepared to form part of the decision making process of the country.
“The more informed these people are the better decision they will make next year,” Ambassador. Nordström said. She wants more women to be elected to the national legislature as a way of giving President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf a good send-off, being the first democratically elected female President on the African continent.
“We want the number of females at the legislature to increase next year. This will be a very good farewell to President Sirleaf, good for the women of Liberia,” the Ambassador said.
UNDP Acting Country Director CleophasTorori also echoed the remarks of Ambassador Nordström, indicating that the NEC needs to undertake a process that would build confidence of the Liberian public through civic engagement and other aspects of the electoral process.
This, he said, would enable the aspirants and the general public to accept the outcome of the electoral process. On his part, NEC Chairman Cllr. Jerome Korkoyah lauded the Swedish Government for its continuous support to the country, especially to the NEC.
He said the NEC is making every necessary preparation to ensure that there are free, fair and transparent elections next year as well as a subsequent, smooth transition. Cllr. Korkoyah then called on other partners to follow the example of the Government of Sweden so that the NEC can be adequately capacitated to undertake the huge task of conducting the upcoming elections.
The signing ceremony between UNDP and the Swedish Government comes at a time when the NEC is preparing for the conduct of 2017 Presidential and Legislative elections.
The Swedish Government and UNDP are committed to supporting the NEC in strengthening its administrative and operational structures. It is also intended to ensure that the most essential needs of the NEC are addressed and that a platform is established to engage with core electoral stakeholders. The European Union has already contributed to the Election Project EUR 10M. The UNDP, EU and Swedish government have a strong, strategic and historical partnership in support of elections in Liberia.