.... “Not doing so will be an act of deliberately disenfranchising Liberian citizens from participating in the elections,” he said.
Former Vice President Joseph Boakai has urged the National Elections Commission (NEC) to extend biometric voter registration to compensate for delays and glitches and allow people to register.
The ongoing BVR will not be extended in the Phase One counties of Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Margibi, BomI, and Gbarpolu, the National Elections Commission (NEC) announced earlier this week.
However, Boakai who is the standard bearer of the opposition Unity Party told politicians and diplomats at the signing ceremony of the Farmington Peace Accord for the 2023 election, that a transparent voter registration process is one of the key elements to having a violence-free election."
The extension, according to Boakai, will cover for the delays and technical difficulties that have prevented many people from registering.
“Not doing so will be an act of deliberately disenfranchising Liberian citizens from participating in the elections,” he said.
The ongoing biometric-voter-registration is intended to reduce the processing time of registrants at voter registration centers, and eliminate multiple registration. It is a personal data entry portal that allows citizens to submit their personal information online, download the code and take it to any voter
However, the process has been marred by flaws such as a low workforce, insufficient cards, malfunctioning equipment, and a lack of logistics, all of which are discouraging citizens from obtaining their cards. Printers assigned to registration centers are frequently off.
Bomi, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Margibi, and Montserrado Counties are the first counties to participate in phase one, which started on March 20 and ended on April 9, 2023. While Bong, Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, Lofa, Maryland, Nimba, Rivercess, River Gee, and Sinoe Counties are scheduled for the second phase.
These incidents, according to VP Boakai, are particularly prominent in District 10 Montserrado and Grand Cape Mount.
“In Cape Mount, the UP has observed the trucking of Sierra Leoneans from across the borders by businessman, Idrissa Massaley, who is believed to be a supporter of the CDC. We are told by executives of our party from Cape Mount that this has led to violence in Jeijuah, Mano River, Bambala, and Tieni between those that are trucking people from Sierra Leone and those attempting to put a stop to such violation of our laws.”
Boakai believes that voter registration is one of the key elements of a violent-free elections ; the National Elections Commission should ensure that these challenges are addressed and the time extended.
“Liberia is now on the threshold of a new democratic order having had a positive transition and we are determined to accelerate another peaceful transition free of violence. We are committed to a credible, free, and fair process and I repeat the Credible, Free, fair, and transparent process.”
The former vice president made these remarks at the Farmington River Peace Declaration by political parties to commit to ensure a nonviolent electoral process in the upcoming October 10th presidential and representative elections.
“As we pen our signatures to this Farmington River Declaration that will commit us to NON-VIOLENT, free, fair, and transparent legislative and presidential elections, we call on the National Elections Commission to consider extending the registration process in the first six counties. This is intended to make up for the delays and technical problems that have led to many not being able to register. Not doing so will be an act of deliberately disenfranchising Liberian citizens from participating in the elections.”
“Lastly, let us understand that while ensuring that elections are violence free simply because the people want to be in peace and harmony, some of those elections have produced inefficient leaders that are undermining the stability and development of the country. It is important, henceforth, for us to stress the need to monitor those indicators that would undermine the CREDIBILITY of the elections as well as those that will trigger violence.”
The signing ceremony was co-hosted by the NEC, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the United Nations (UN). President George Weah attended and signed.
The high-level event was also attended by representatives from the government, civil society organizations, the diplomatic community, and international organizations. Political parties pledge their commitment to peaceful, transparent, and credible elections. They agreed to resolve any disputes through legal means.
The UN and ECOWAS signed the agreement as witnesses. On behalf of the United Nations, Ms. Giovanie Biha, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Acting Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), signed the agreement. Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, President of the ECOWAS Commission, signed on behalf of ECOWAS.
The Farmington Peace Pledge obliges signatories and their supporters to uphold the principles of peaceful elections and respect the rule of law.
“The UN, ECOWAS, and international partners continue to reiterate the importance and centrality of peaceful elections to Liberia's stability and prosperity,” a release from the United Nations said .
The upcoming elections in October, the fourth in the country since 2003, coincide with Liberia commemorating 20 years of peace. This pivotal moment serves to reinforce progress towards sustainable peace and democracy. The Farmington River Declaration 2023 is a strong commitment to prevent potential instances of violence, including violence against women, during the electoral process.
By signing this Declaration, the nation's political parties have displayed their resolve to ensure peaceful elections in 2023, with the international community fully committed to supporting their efforts.