The vice president for programs of the Washington D.C. based International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), last Friday paid a courtesy call on the chairman of the National Elections Commission, Jerome Korkoya.
During their discussions at the NEC headquarters in Monrovia, Michael Svetur said his visit was intended to obtain on the spot information on the 2017 Presidential and Representative elections and to take stock of IFES' support to Liberia's Election Management Body (EMB). IFES is an American elections charity group.
Korkoya described IFES as "an undoubtedly dependable elections partner to the Commission, during this critical time of electioneering in Liberia."
However, Korkoya said he was greatly concerned about many challenges still facing the NEC, including the data center, legal hearings and the capacity of election staff in the 19 magisterial areas outside of the NEC headquarters. He also referred to issues regarding effective communications and logistics. Korkoya told Mr. Svetur that the Commission is seriously considering acquiring the services of helicopters to airlift sensitive election materials, mainly to the southeastern parts of the country where the roads are inaccessible (due to the heavy rainfall occurring through the end of October). He said in previous elections, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) provided the Commission with helicopters to airlift sensitive election materials to these difficult to reach areas in the country.
Last Thursday at the Commission's regular weekly press briefing on the 2017 elections the NEC chairman announced that sample ballot papers were ready for verification by the contesting parties. He spoke about the disposition of objections and complaints, recruitment of poll workers, electoral disputes and resolution training for magistrates and regional coordinators, as well as the official launch of the Civic and Voter Education Campaign.
Korkoya said a Special Recruitment Committee has been set up to work with the elections magistrates to recruit 28,367 competent poll workers, including Presiding Officers (POs), Voter Identification Officers (VIOs), Ballot Paper Issuers (BPIs), and Queue Controllers (QCs). The Chairman said the Commission has already recruited and deployed 436 civic educators and 219 gender mobilizers across the country for a period of two months to carry out door to door outreach as well as face to face interactions with community dwellers.
He said the work of the Commission continues to be hindered by challenges such as getting complainants and respondents in some cases to appear when cited for hearings. The Commission will have no other option but to dispose of cases of complainants and respondents who failed to honor citations for hearing these cases by the Commission's Hearing Office, he said, according to a release.