The New Dawn (Monrovia)

Liberia: Parties, Govt., Boycott Electoral Confab

Several officials of the Liberian government and heads of political parties have boycotted a two-day electoral laws reform conference in Monrovia.

Among officials conspicuously absent during the opening ceremony on Monday included House Speaker Alex Tyler; Justice Minister Cllr. Christina Tah; Governance Commission Chair Dr. Amos Sawyer; Law Reform Commission Jallah Barpu, and Constitution Review Commission head Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott.

Chairpersons of political parties also boycotted the international conference on electoral law reform being held on the theme: "Electoral law reform: A key improving the democratic process in Liberia."

The conference, which was organized by the National Elections Commission is intended to bring together heads of political parties, including the ruling Unity Party; the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), Liberty Party, National Union for Democratic Progress (NUDP), and the National Patriotic Party, among others and the Government of Liberia to discuss reform of the country's electoral laws..

Parties here, especially the oppositions have been calling for electoral reform and the Monday's conference was just a start up which they boycotted suggesting that they would rather choose to make noise in the press then to tackle the real issue and find a solution. It brought together delegates, and panelists from the around the world.

Making comments at the opening ceremony, NEC Commissioner, Jeanette Ebba-Davidson said the persistence refusal of heads of political parties to form part of the reform process of the electoral laws might affect them in the near future, and the commission will not be prepared to listen to their cries. Commissioner Davidson said it is unfortunate that officials of political parties would wantonly abandoned activities of the electoral laws reform which is in their interest.

Also speaking at the ceremony, which was largely attended by international partners and officials of the NEC, Acting Chairperson of the Commission, Cllr. Elizabeth Nelson said the current demanding need of the electoral system of Liberia is a reform of the elections law.

"This has absolutely become necessary given that some of the existing laws that apply to elections are ambiguous, while others were specially enacted for the 2005 elections, and such are not applicable in the present electoral system", she said.

The acting NEC Boss said in fulfillment of this recommendation, NEC in collaboration with the International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES) and the UNDP has over the last six months been massively holding series of nationwide consultative forums to solicit the inputs of citizens.

According to her, consultations were conducted in 10 of the 15 counties of Liberia, including Bomi, Bong, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Lofa, Margibi, Maryland, Nimba and Sinoe counties, respectively.

Cllr. Nelson told the gathering that the consultation with women groupings was very important because mainstreaming women with emphasis on women and youth in electoral processes over the last six years has been an area of major concern to the National Elections Commission.

Meanwhile, the keynote speaker of the conference, Johann Kriegler, an International Legal Expert of the UNDP said that reform process of the electoral laws should not only center around the elite class; instead, every citizen especially low income earners, including marketers and all sectors of the country should be involved.

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