The National Elections Commission (NEC) has received from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) assorted materials worth US$72,000 to support the Information Communication Technology (ICT) center of the electoral body.
The donation was made possible with funding from the government of Sweden, one of the donors of the Elections Basket Fund Project. The items donated, include 72 solar batteries for the battery bank, a Network Access Storage (NAS), seven pieces of 12,000 BTU air-conditioners, two 24,000 BTU air conditioners, and four electronic access control security lock systems.
The kind gesture came at a time when the NEC is preparing to hold the Special Senatorial Election this year, which requires effective and efficient ICT operations.
At the handover ceremony, UNDP Resident Representative, Pa-Lamin Beyai, first congratulated the newly appointed Commissioners and reaffirmed UNDP’s commitment to the bilateral partnership with NEC in promoting democratic governance in Liberia.
Dr. Beyai noted that the donation was the agency’s way of responding to the urgent need to refurbish the ICT setup at NEC, emphasizing the critical role of the National Elections Commission in preserving democracy through the conduct of free, fair, and credible elections, to which ICT and Data Center plays an essential role.
It may be recalled that during the 2017 presidential and general elections, one of the presidential contestants, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine of the Liberty Party took the NEC to the Supreme Court for fraud, and the Supreme Court ruled that there would be no rerun as argued by Cllr. Brumskine and his supporters but the NEC should clean the data system to build public confidence in the conduct of the election.
However, since that ruling, there has been no declaration or public announcement that the system has been cleaned up.
Beyai further thanked donors including Sweden, EU, Irish Aid, and Canada for their continuous partnership with UNDP in supporting the National Elections Commission, and called on the NEC to use the materials donated in the best way to promote the conduct of transparent and credible elections.
In remarks, the Head of Cooperation at the Swedish Embassy, Elisabeth Hårleman, firstly thanked the NEC for continuing the work of elections despite COVID-19.
Ms. Hårleman added that Sweden was pleased to be a part of the support to national development, especially one that relates to electoral processes implemented through the UNDP.
“Sweden,” she said, “Will continue to support national development and seek continued support for the National Elections Commission (NEC).”
She acknowledged the importance of ICT in the conduct of elections, emphasizing that she was pleased to be a part of the handover of equipment and materials to enhance ICT capacity which will contribute to the conduct of transparent and credible elections in Liberia.
Ms. Harleman called on the Government of Liberia through its institutions, especially the National Elections Commission, to take concrete steps toward women empowerment and increase their participation in electoral processes.
Receiving the items on behalf of the Commission, the acting Chairperson of NEC, Commissioner Davidetta Browne Lansanah thanked UNDP and donors for their intervention.
She added that the donation did not come as a surprise as the Commission has been the recipient of support from the 2015-2018 Elections Project which started June 1, 2015.
Ms. Lansanah outlined key supports received from the UNDP Elections Basket Fund as the installation of solar panels to provide electricity at the 19 magisterial offices of the Commission, the installation of an automated platform for work process, the provision of warehouse safety materials and equipment including a modern 3-ton forklift, the ongoing renovations of 12 warehouses including the constructions of fences and generator rooms; the provision of voter registration equipment for the 2017 elections, and the provision of technical support through consultancy as support that have strengthened the capacity of NEC over the years.
Commissioner Lansanah concluded by calling on donors and the UNDP for continued assistance to NEC while promising to use the items donated to further promote the credibility of election processes.
In a related Development, UNDP on June 12, 2020, donated at least 300 COVID-19 jackets to the National Coordinator on COVID-19 Response.
Speaking at the event, UNDP Liberia Deputy Resident Representative for Program, Violet Baffour, said the donation of the jackets was in response to a recent request made by the head of the National response team.
She said UNDP is committed to working with Liberia to defeat COVID-19. Madam Baffour told the gathering that it was important to fight the invisible virus together and that the government cannot do it alone. “It needs collective efforts; that is why the UNDP will continue to support the government and people of Liberia to ensure that this disease is eradicated.
Receiving the items on behalf of the government of Liberia, the Head of the National Response Team on COVID-19, Mary T. Broh, said she was overwhelmed with UNDP unprecedented support to the government and people of Liberia.
She recalled recently that UNDP handed over a consignment of anti-coronavirus materials to the Liberia National Police and the Bureau of Corrections. The kind gesture by the UNDP recently was under its joint Rule of Law Program with the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) with funding from the Governments of Sweden and Ireland.