The Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA) said it welcomes and supports the recent statement from the US Embassy calling on the government of Liberia to ensure that the pending October 10, 2023, presidential and general elections are fair, free, and peaceful and will not hesitate to hold accountable those who would attempt to disrupt it.
The United States, through its Charge d' Affairs of the US Embassy near Monrovia, Catherine Rodriguez, indicated at her first Press Roundtable that the "United States is also prepared to assist in efforts to keep these elections free, fair, and peaceful by holding accountable anyone responsible for engaging in activities to undermine the Democratic election process in Liberia through additional measures such as sanctions."
The LNBA said, the US Government, bilateral and multilateral partners' call on the government of Liberia to invest an adequate level of money, personnel, and organizational resources to protect citizens, candidates, polling stations, and election workers from intimidation or harm" cannot be overemphasized during the period of elections.
Accordingly, th LNBA says it appreciates the US Government's recent disclosure that as a longstanding partner with Liberia, along with international community, it has been working closely with the National Elections Commission (NEC), to make sure that elections observers have full access to polling stations during elections day as well as access to vote tallying.
"Liberians are even more grateful to the United States through USAID for directly supporting both international and domestic observer missions , as well as the US Government's own mission observing the process throughout the country, " LNBA said through its statement issued yesterday in Monrovia.
As the world watches, the LNBA calls on all eligible Liberian citizens to brace the pending electoral process with courage and conviction and must see it as a solemn responsibility and civil duty to freely participate in elections to choose their leaders, which is an dispensable principle of a vibrant rule of law regime.
"The successful holding of these elections will further cement the democratic gains made over the years and that it will not condone any reckless actions from any anti-democratic elements desirous of undermining the peace and tranquility currently enjoyed by Liberians," the statement indicated.
The LNBA assures its membership and the Liberian public that no one has the capacity to rig the October 10, 2023 elections in order to thwart the democratic wishes and aspirations of the Liberian people and as such, speculations that there is a conspiracy to grossly subvert the will of the Liberian people during the October polls is evil and has no foundation in the democratic system of Liberia.
The LNBA further asserts that absolutely, there is no window of opportunity for anyone to derail the peace of the country as it has received sufficient commitment from international partners that such actions by anyone will be materially consequential.
Additionally, the LNBA said it is in full agreement with the former Chairman of the electoral commission of Ghana, Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan that "manipulation of electoral results in recent times has taken place at collation centers."
Accordingly to the LNBA, Dr. Gyan made the statement when he spoke on the topic of free, and fair elections at the 3rd Annual Conference of NDC lawyers association held at Akosombo in eastern region of Ghana last week.
Dr. Gyan said: "it is important to note that most of the manipulation of election results in recent times tends to happen at the collation centers where votes are collated or tabulated."
Based on the statement made by Dr. Gyan, the LNBA calls on the National Elections Commission to institute a robust polling and results management processes with clear procedures and instructions in a manner known to the stakeholders way ahead of elections.
"In the matter of results management, it is an obligation placed on the electoral commission and its numerous permanent temporary officials to be candid with the results," Dr. Gyan, who is considered as one of the world's most accomplished electoral experts, said.
He said the conduct of free and fair elections is a collective responsibility of the elections commission, political parties and police.
"The electoral commission must do two things in the results management functions. First, it must institute a robust polling and results management process of clear procedures and instructions, and in a manner known to the stakeholders way ahead of elections. A lot of these are usually available in the election law and election manuals regarding for example polling counting and collation procedures," he said.
Secondly, Dr. Gyan said the electoral commission is to manage the process in such a transparent way that there will be no doubt of the election results.
"In the matter of results management, it is important to bear in mind that an obligation placed on the electoral commission is an obligation placed on its numerous permanent and temporary officials. And that is where the danger is. For purposes of reconstitution of the election results, this places a premium on polling station results," he added.
The LNBA calls on the government to provide all needed funds to the National Elections Commission to be able to carry out its activities without cutting corners to impair fair and credible election outcomes in October.