NDI Delegation Releases Statement on Pre-Election Environment in Liberia

Friday, September 8, 2017

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MONROVIA, LIBERIA – The National Democratic Institute (NDI) today published its latest observations and recommendations about the presidential and legislative elections in Liberia. This follows a five-day assessment mission by experts from various African countries and the United States. Led by Ambassador Johnnie Carson, Former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Member of Board of Directors, NDI (United States), NDI’s delegation includes regional and election experts: Honorable Hanna Tetteh, former Minister for Foreign Affairs and Member of Parliament (Ghana); Dr. Tadjoudine Ali-Diabacte, former Deputy Director of the Electoral Assistance Division, United Nations (Togo); Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh, Regional Director, NDI (Cameroon); Samantha Smoot, Observation Mission Director, NDI (United States); and Michael McNulty, Senior Program Manager, NDI (United States).

Liberia’s October 10 elections mark an historic milestone for the country, promising to be the first peaceful, democratic transfer of power from one elected president to another. Ensuring the trust of the voters requires transparency, inclusivity, accountability, continuous engagement and communication from all electoral stakeholders.

“The people and institutions of Liberia are taking the lead in consolidating democratic progress,” said Ambassador Carson. “The delegation believes that the success of these elections will hinge on whether voters have confidence in the process and that, ultimately, their will is reflected in the outcome.”

The delegation met with numerous stakeholders throughout the course of the week, including representatives of the National Elections Commission (NEC), presidential and legislative candidates, political leaders, civil society representatives, and members of the international community. The delegation also met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

“There may still be logistical challenges with these elections,” said Hon. Tetteh, “especially because of the state of infrastructure during the current rainy season. However, the Liberians we spoke with are enthusiastic about the elections and have faith in their ability to determine the outcome.”

In the spirit of international support for Liberian democracy, the delegation offered a series of recommendations on steps that can be taken in the remaining pre-election period to enhance confidence in the overall electoral process and foster peaceful, credible polls, including the following:

National Elections Commission

  • Provide the complete Final Registration Roll in machine-readable format to political parties and accredited international and citizen election observers, as a further means of ensuring the integrity of the voters list.
  • Make the Final Registration Roll available by September 10 to provide sufficient opportunity for voters to verify their status and check their details.
  • Ensure that election results are transmitted securely from magisterial offices to NEC headquarters and are announced in a timely, transparent manner. Following election day, provide polling-place level results on NEC’s website in a timely manner, as planned.

Political Parties and Candidates

  • Adhere to the Farmington River Declaration and the Ganta Declaration and promote and ensure peaceful conduct among candidates and supporters.
  • In the process of collecting information from party agents in the polling stations, parties should take caution not to usurp the NEC’s responsibility for announcing official election results.
  • Raise awareness of and express zero tolerance for violence against women in the electoral process, including towards female candidates.

Civil Society

  • Intensify civic and voter education, particularly among women and rural communities, and in local languages. Prioritize educating voters on how to fill out ballots properly in order to help reduce the invalid ballot rates.

Media

  • Promote and self-regulate adherence to the media code of conduct. Report only verified information. Discourage inciteful language and dispel rumors. Clearly distinguish between articles written by journalists, editorials, and materials that are produced by outside sources and published for a fee.

The assessment mission is an integral part of NDI’s overall International Election Observation Mission in Liberia, which also includes six long-term observers and four long-term analysts, who have been in Liberia since July, as well as an additional 34 short-term observers who will arrive and deploy across Liberia to observe election day.

NDI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to supporting and strengthening democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government. NDI first worked in Liberia in 1997. The Institute has maintained a permanent in-country office in Liberia since 2003. Current NDI programs in Liberia, which include technical assistance for voter education, citizen election monitoring, women’s participation, and poll-watching for all political parties, are funded by USAID.

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