The National Elections Commission (NEC) is finally working on the final voter roll listing that will be publicized shortly, but the commission has been urged to provide further information on what has been done to address deficiencies in the provisional listing, if it is to increase transparency and ensure stakeholders’ confidence in the integrity of the voter lists, Carter Center has said.
The Carter Center, a not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization that advances democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity globally, also called on the NEC to provide political parties copies of the final lists without delay.
It may be recalled that the Voter Registration (VR) exhibition was reportedly overwhelmed by numerous irregularities—a situation that created a dark cloud over the electoral process. The exhibition was overshadowed by reports of missing names, photos and other personal information of registrants across the country.
In a statement released yesterday by The Carter Center’s international election observation mission, the group said Liberia (through NEC) is managing for the first time the election process independent of large-scale international assistance, and all should be done to build confidence in the commission. Recommendations that the group thinks would help to ensure a peaceful, credible election were also included in the release.
After acknowledging some technical difficulties in the compilation of the voter lists, the NEC continues to work on finalizing the voter roll. Although the NEC is still in compliance with legal deadlines for its finalization, presidential candidates and political party officials have expressed concerns to The Carter Center about its status.
Following the VR exhibition saga, calls began to emerge for the NEC to do all in its power to cultivate public confidence in the electoral process to ensure peaceful elections with all the phases of the electoral process being executed in a more transparent manner. These calls were led by the Election Coordination Committee (ECC).
ECC Chairman, Oscar Bloh, at a press conference urged the NEC to make public the detailed voter registration roll that highlights the particulars of every voter as this will help political parties and independent candidates to better plan for their campaigns.
“The NEC must try to address deficiencies in the provisional listing if it is to increase transparency and ensure stakeholders’ confidence in the integrity of the voter lists,” the statement said.
The Center observed that though hopes were high for the participation of women in Liberian politics, especially at a time when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had broken the glass-ceiling in Liberia and Africa, women’s participation in this election is limited. “Only two parties successfully ensured that 30 percent of their candidates were women,” it said.
“Overall, political parties expressed measured confidence in the impartiality of the NEC. In an effort to bolster transparency, the NEC has convened regular meetings with the political parties at the national level through the Inter-Party Consultative Committee,” Carter Center noted, though it worries that this practice seems not to be consistently replicated in the counties.
Despite the limited extent of campaign activity so far, the Center is encouraged by its peaceful and positive character, as well as by the commitment to a peaceful election professed by all the candidates with whom the mission has met.
Widespread Misuse of State Resources Reported
The Carter Center said allegations of the misuse of state resources in the campaign are widespread, and will be closely observing this issue throughout the process. “This election is an important stage in the consolidation of Liberia’s democracy,” said Jordan Ryan, vice president of the Carter Center’s peace programs. “The Center is encouraged by the NEC’s progress and by the peaceful conduct of the campaign to date. We urge the NEC to communicate clearly with the parties, and we encourage the parties to continue their cooperation with the NEC and maintain their commitment to peace.”
To ensure a level playing field for all contestants, the Center noted that NEC and other relevant authorities should thoroughly investigate all allegations of the misuse of administrative resources and use existing remedies to hold perpetrators accountable.
Meanwhile, the pre-election statement is based on the work of the Center’s core team and six long-term observers, who have been in the country since early August and have now visited 13 of the country’s 15 counties. Shortly before Election Day, more than 30 short-term observers will join the team in Liberia and deploy across the country to assess the voting, counting, and tabulation processes, the release said.
The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.