Liberia: ECC Secures US$1.5M Elections Observation Grant

ECC Executive Director Oscar Bloh, left, with USAID Mission Director, Jim Wright,

.... The contract, sealed under the project title, the Liberia Domestic Elections Observation (LIDEO) Activity,  is expected to cover activities at all stages of the electoral process, inclusive of the legislative and presidential elections.

The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC), the leading organic elections observation group in the country, has secured a US$1.5 million contract from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to help enhance its observatory work for the October 2023 presidential and legislative elections.

The contract, sealed under the project title, the Liberia Domestic Elections Observation (LIDEO) Activity,  is expected to cover activities at all stages of the electoral process, inclusive of the legislative and presidential elections.

“The ECC is pleased to announce a new partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the LIDEO Activity project,” ECC Executive Director Oscar Bloh announced at a press conference in Monrovia over the weekend.

The goal of the agreement is aligned with ECC’s mission which is to contribute towards transparent, accountable, credible, and sustainable democratic processes in Liberia.

The contract, which  began technically late last month, and will run up to August 28, 2025, is intended to enhance voters’ confidence in the electoral processes and results. It is also to help mitigate electoral violence and tension, through evidence based, responsive election observation reporting to the public.

Increasing transparency and strengthening public confidence, including results and promoting, and strengthening of Liberia’s electoral practices and legal framework are the two strategic goals of the project, Bloh said.

“In addition to the long term observers, the ECC will deploy 1,200 short term observers on Elections Day,” Bloh disclosed.

In the implementation of the project’s activities, the ECC disclosed that it will adopt a three-pronged approach, which will include increasing citizens’ confidence in the electoral process; releasing timely information to the public on the committee’s findings, and initiating regular stakeholders’ engagements.

 “We will be establishing and maintaining strategic relationships with diverse stakeholders including NEC, Political Parties, security sector and the media,” Bloh said

“These engagements are intended to share information, collective problem solving and to harness the efforts of all stakeholders to contribute to a free, fair and credible election,” he said.

He said ECC will deploy 92 long term observers, among who will include 19 County coordinators and 73 Electoral Districts Supervisors. The ECC Executive director said the third approach is electoral reforms advocacy that will include consultations with stakeholders on reforms that need to take place based on their experience in participating in the 2023 elections as well as the outcomes of the ECC’s observation efforts.

Bloh further disclosed that ECC will create a database center, which will use the Apollo Database Management System that has the capacity to allow observers transmit real time observation data through SMS by means of using coded texts which will be collated and analyzed to produce updates and reports.

“Observation of the Biometric Voter Registration Exercise and the exhibition, including claims and objections, observation of the primaries of political parties, observation of the campaign to ensure that political parties and independent candidates are in compliance with the laws and regulations will be high on the agenda of this project,” he said.

In addition to observation of the elections, the project will also cover observation of the adjudication of electoral petitions, ECC noted.

ECC will work in close collaboration with international groups such as the Electoral Institute of South Africa (EISA) and national observation groups such as the Liberia Elections Observation Network (LEON).

USAID Mission Director, Jim Wright, described the October elections as critical and must be observed with all due diligence, indicating that the peaceful, free, fair and credible conduct of the elections will either upgrade the country’s democratic credentials or dampen it.

USAID has reposed explicit confidence in the ability of ECC, believing that it will do a good job.

“ECC is very qualified to lead the implementation of our election observation project,” Director Wright said at the launch of the project.

“This is the best way to engender public confidence in the electoral system. We have no doubt that ECC will draw on its past election observation experiences to fairly conduct this year’s observation.” said Wright.

The partnership with ECC, Wright disclosed, is a product of USAID’s new localization initiative — an unprecedented venture considering the scale and scope of the project. Never before has the US government partnered directly with a local organization to implement such a huge project, he said. 

“Interestingly, this initiative recognizes that we need to intentionally integrate the desirable insights of local partners into our work to develop resources to be used effectively, more resilient and more equitable,” Wright disclosed.

“Among ECC’s strengths is its commitment to ensuring a fair electoral process and making objective, evidence-based judgments about the conduct of elections,” the USAID boss observed.

He however stressed the need for accountability during the execution of the project.