US Ambassador Michael McCarthy has praised Liberia for exhibiting appreciable democratic practices, one of which is the conduct of free, fair, and peaceful elections amid political outrage in West Africa.
Amb. McCarthy added that Liberia is making gains in a sub-region where democratic progress is slow, if not outrightly receding, but Liberia continues to be an example for its neighbor “as a mainstay of free, fair, and peaceful elections is all the more important.”
He added that for the last decades, Liberia has exhibited and continues to display a commitment to voting in democratic elections, a model which other countries in the sub-region need to copy.
“I have heard that many people, especially those in rural areas, walk several hours to and from their polling centers to cast their votes. I hope to see that dedication during the upcoming by-elections,” Amb. McCarthy added. “I am happy to see that Liberians have demonstrated commitment to respecting election results, even when those results are disputed.”
Amb. McCarthy further said that it makes him feel proud to see aggrieved parties during the election period using formal dispute resolution mechanisms to adjudicate complaints rather than resorting to violence.
“During the lengthy adjudication processes after the 2020 elections, they waited patiently for the process to take its course and respected the final results,” the US diplomat said.
He then lauded the National Elections Commission (NEC) for conducting a free, fair, and successful election last December in the middle of the pandemic.
The US Ambassador’s commendation of Liberia’s democratic gains was made at the unveiling of USAID’s five-year program, the “Elections and Democracy Activity (EDA).” The program will see USAID collaborate with the NEC and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to cultivate answerable elected representatives who will govern in the interest of their constituents.
The US$16 million program is being implemented by Democracy International, a US-based organization, which seeks to support active citizens and responsive governments, engage CSOs and political organizations to achieve a more peaceful democratic world.
The project, which is expected to be implemented through three interconnected objectives, involves the Ministry of Education rolling out civic education from 1st grade to 6th grade and support to NEC and CSOs to independently manage and observe all stages of the electoral cycle.
In remarks, Jim Wright, USAID Mission Director, said in almost two decades Liberia has experienced truly fair and competitive, yet peaceful elections, thus setting a powerful example of democratic self-governance in West Africa.
He said the EDA will support the political participation of women and youth through candidate and leadership training and monitoring and skill-building for female legislators. In this way, he adds, “the program aims to support the next generation of Liberian leaders to prepare themselves to govern ethically and in the interest of their constituents,” Mr. Wright said.
The Chairperson of the National Elections Commission, Davidetta Browne Lansanah, lauded USAID and other partners for their initiative and pledged her commitment to working with them for the good of the country.