Liberia: ECC Sounds Early Warning for 2023 Elections

… As broad stakeholders’ engagement begin

The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) has expressed grave concern over the conduct of free, fair, and transparent elections in Liberia amid the daunting challenges facing the country’s National Elections Commission.

The ECC noted, among other things, that the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections will face circumstances that could jeopardize their credibility and integrity.

The election in 2023 is expected to be a defining moment in the history of the country, but with minimum international oversight, according to the ECC, it’s critical to sustain Liberia’s fragile democracy.

As Liberia’s biggest domestic election observation network, the ECC has also invited other stakeholders to provide recommendations aimed at mitigating foreseen risks that may have the proclivity to undermine democracy and peace.

“The ECC has organized unique stakeholder engagements with political parties, relevant legislative committees, CSOs, and development partners to discuss these prevailing implications, which threaten to undermine the credibility of the 2023 electoral process, and allow them to offer concrete recommendations and actionable points,” said Malcolm Joseph, an ECC board member.

These prevailing challenges, which border on the integrity and credibility of the 2023 elections, have alarmed partners and electoral stakeholders.

For example, the NEC’s transition to biometric voter registration amid questions about its capacity with respect to effectiveness, the profile of the vendor, and value for money

The ECC is equally worried over the postponed voter registration exercise as enshrined in the Commission timeline. This, it says, “contravenes Article 80 (e) of the Liberian Constitution that provides for the apportionment of constituencies by the NEC in accordance with the new population figures—another prime risk of voter misplacement.”

“It was clearly flagged that the persistent challenge of conducting both the Census and voter registration, combined with inadequate time allotted for the commencement of civic voter education on the transition to biometric voter registration overall, serve as a risk to the quality of the electoral process and the integrity of its outcome.”

Interestingly, however, these issues come on the heels of lingering questions about the credibility of the proposed Census data amid mass controversies that have marred the conduct of the process.

Any outcome of the Census data has the tendency to affect the credibility of the apportionment of new boundaries or electoral districts.

Mr. Joseph said the broad stakeholders’ engagement aligns with the ECC's strategic priority of "Partnership with National and Regional Electoral Actors" in its five-year strategic plan (2022–2027).

The gathering, which took place Tuesday at a local hotel in Monrovia, supported the ECC’s mandate to improve the quality of Liberia’s democratic process.

The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) is in collaborative partnership with Democracy International with support from USAID-funded Elections and Democracy Activities (EDA) program to build the capacity of the ECC and strengthen its collaboration with electoral partners ahead of the 2023 elections.