After a successful pre-election Needs Assessment and Solidarity Mission to Sierra Leone, the delegation of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) has started consultations with stakeholders in neighbouring Liberia ahead of the country’s crucial October 2017 legislative and presidential elections.
The team led by Prof Mahmood Yakubu, the ECONEC board President and chair of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was first received on Monday, 17 July, 2017, by the ECOWAS Special Representative in Liberia, Ambassador Babatunde Ajisomo, for a detailed briefing on the political situation, preparations and other issues related to the electoral process.
After the briefing session, which was also attended by the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security Mrs. Halima Ahmed, and her team, on a Fact-finding mission to Liberia, the ECONEC delegation proceeded to the National Electoral Commission (NEC) Liberia Headquarters.
NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya and other Commissioners expressed their happiness at the ECONEC solidarity visit, which they described as encouraging.
He briefed the team on NEC’s preparations for the elections and mentioned issues related to voter registration, Code of Conduct for candidates, electoral security and resolution of electoral disputes.
On funding, he reiterated the commitment and assurance by the government and support by development partners, expressing the hope that funds would be released expeditiously to speed up the electoral process.
Mr Korkoya also talked about the Commission’s good relations with the political parties noting that on their own initiative, the parties had signed up to a Memorandum of Understanding for non-violence during the elections.
Prof Yakubu encouraged the Commission to do its best and pledged to advocate for support on its behalf, assuring that the Network or its members also assist where possible towards ensuing credible and peaceful elections to deepen democracy, not just in Liberia but in the region and Africa as a whole
The ECONEC delegation also visited the Samuel Doe National Stadium to observe the procedure for Candidate Nomination Exercise started by NEC on Monday.
Later, the ECONEC and the ECOWAS Commission delegations paid a courtesy visit on Liberia’s former Interim President Prof Amos Sawyer, who now chairs the National Governance Commission, promoting elections with integrity, democracy and good governance.
Prof. Yakubu paid tribute to the elder statesman, who has led ECOWAS electoral observations to several countries, explaining that the ECONEC team could not visit Liberia and fail to pay him homage.
He urged him to lend his moral voice and support to ensure that the Liberian elections were credible and peaceful.
Prof Sawyer for his part commended ECONEC for the confidence-boosting mission, after a similar visit to Sierra Leone, and promised to take up the challenge.
He described the ECONEC initiative as positive and unique, noting that such efforts would mitigate electoral disputations, encourage political actors and stakeholders to play by the rule, to facilitate credible, peaceful elections, development and progress in the region.
Liberia, with some 4.2 million population has an estimated 2.1 million registered voters and more than 26 political parties. Some 818 candidates including 131 women are vying for the 73 parliamentarian seats and the positions of the country’s president and Vice president at the October elections.