Liberia’s presidential and legislative elections might be about ten months away, but the world has monitoring election-related developments in the country, with many fingers crossed for a ‘transparent electoral process’ next year.
The hopeful sentiments were voiced by Sweden Ambassador Lena Nordström, who said the world is anticipating a very smooth transition process in Liberia and all of the country’s genuine partners must ensure that this comes to fruition through the conduct of a very successful electoral process.
Ambassador Nordström spoke Wednesday, December 13, when she signed an agreement with the National Elections Commission (NEC) that would lead to the provision of US$2.7 million for the commission to beef up its electoral preparation exercises.
The signing ceremony took place at the NEC headquarters in Sinkor.
Amb. Nordström promised that the Swedes would provide every support to Liberia to conduct a very smooth transition process.
The Ambassador said the fund will be provided to the NEC through the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to focus on civic education.
She said with the 2017 elections that would eventually see one democratically elected government handing over to another is a very huge task to be undertaken by the NEC.
“This is a very huge responsibility and we expect you to do your utmost best to execute this successfully. That can also be done when we, along with other partners, support you with the requisite financial and materials that will enable this to happen,” the female diplomat said.
She added: “We want a very transparent process that everyone will accept; though this is difficult at times, we need to do our best to gain the confidence of the majority of the people.”
She made specific reference to the youth and women as those that should be prioritized during the civic engagement exercises so that they can be adequately prepared to form part of the decision making process of the country.
“The more informed these people are the better decision they will make next year,” Amb. Nordström said.
She wants more women to be elected to the national legislature as a way of giving President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf a good send-off, being the first democratically elected female President on the African continent.
“We want the number of females at the legislature to increase next year. This will be a very good farewell to President Sirleaf, good for the women of Liberia,” the ambassador said.
UNDP Country Director Cleophas Torori also echoed the remarks of Ambassador Nordström, indicating that the NEC needs to undertake a process that would build confidence of the Liberian public through civic engagement and other aspects of the electoral process.
This, he said, would enable the aspirants and the general public to accept the outcome of the electoral process.
NEC Chairman Cllr. Jerome Korkoyah lauded the Swedish government for its continuous support to the country, especially to the NEC.
He said the NEC is making every necessary preparation to ensure that there are free, fair and transparent elections next year as well as a subsequent, smooth transition.
Cllr. Korkoyah then called on other partners to imitate the Swedish government so that the NEC can be adequately capacitated to undertake that huge task of conducting the upcoming elections.