The over sixty participants at the just-ended policy dialogues the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) concluded in Gbarnga, Bong County, have called for peaceful elections come October 10.
The ECC dialogues, according to a statement, brought together representatives of political parties, civil society organizations (CSOs), local government officials, youth groups and women’s organizations.
An ECC official, Eddie Jarwolo, said the policy dialogues are being held in Bong, Grand Bassa, Margibi, Nimba, Bomi, Grand Gedeh, Montserrado and Lofa counties.
Mr. Jarwolo, who served as the lead facilitator, said the forums are designed to educate the participants on the importance of the exhibition process to citizens, as well as the corrections, claims and objections process during and after the elections.
“Political parties, CSOs and the media need to educate citizens on the importance of the exhibition process and how, who, where and when to file an objection. This is why the ECC wants to ensure that citizens clearly understand how to conduct civic education on the exhibition process and how to file objections,” Jarwolo told the gathering.
Jarwolo said the ECC is informing participants that the person who puts forth the challenge during the exhibition period must prove all challenges in person. He told participants the determination of objections shall be made at the magistrate’s office during the period for determination of objections, which shall be announced and posted at the magistrate’s office. He also told participants that the objector (s) must appear in person, that the magistrate will notify the person(s) who the objection is being raised against, and that the burden of proof is on the objector, where the ‘objected’ person must have the chance to refute the evidence provided if one or both of the parties are not present.
The National Elections Commission (NEC) has set June 12-17 for exhibition of the provisional registration roll for the October elections. The ECC will observe the entire exhibition process across the 73 electoral districts focusing on the claims and objections aspect, Jarwolo said, and encouraged political parties to also observe the process, which would raise the standard of transparency and openness of the electoral process.
Jarwolo said the ECC deployed a total of 89 district and county observers across the country during the VR process.
“The ECC observed 849 of the 2,080 voter registration centers in the 73 electoral districts in the country and documented our observation report,” Jarwolo said.
Participants lauded the ECC for the initiative and vowed to reach out to citizens with the awareness.
“We say thank you so much for coming to explain these things to us. This is what we want, when we ourselves understand the issues like this, we are able to educate our people,” said Mary Larteh, the Paramount Chief of Jorquelleh Chiefdom.
The Paramount Chief encouraged representatives of political parties in particular to explain the importance of the exhibition and objection processes to their supporters to take advantage of them.
ECC is providing awareness and opportunity to registered voters and the public to confirm that the NEC has correctly recorded information about them, as well as providing an opportunity for the public to check the accuracy of the work done by NEC.
The ECC remains the single largest professional civil society platform monitoring, documenting and reporting all aspects of the electoral process. The committee deployed over 4,000 observers during the 2011 and 2014 elections in Liberia.
The work of the ECC is done in collaboration with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).