31 December 2017

Liberia: Carter Center Wants Electoral Laws Reviewed

The observer mission of Atlanta based US group Carter Center is recommending to national government to carry out proper revision of electoral legislation that will help in addressing election gaps here.

"We encourage the government to carry out a full review of electoral legislation through an inclusive process to address gaps and inconsistencies with the goal of bringing the legal framework in line with international standards for democratic elections," the US group said Thursday, 28 December in Monrovia.

The Carter Center made its recommendation at a news conference at the Boulevard Palace Hotel in Sinkor Thursday where it released its preliminary findings in the 26 December presidential runoff between ruling Unity Party (UP) and opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).

Reading the Observer Mission's findings, former Senegalese Prime Minister, now head of the Carter Center Observer Mission Dr. Aminata Toure told reporters that the Carter Center Observer Mission's report sees the runoff election to be calm and peaceful.

The former Prime Minister narrates that due to the prolonged hearing of a legal compliant, campaigning was extremely limited given the short time for the runoff. Madam Toure adds that the NEC and staff performed admirably in administering the election, noting that the election commission's interaction with political parties were at times contentious.

For his part, Carter Center Vice President for Peace Program Mr. Jordan Ryan indicates that the postponement of the runoff election significantly hindered civic and voter education activities, though he observes that the media and citizens closely followed major development in the legal process and many were aware of the runoff.

The Carter Center vice president further says circumstances limited the opportunities for voter education activities on key topics, including the runoff procedures, the commission's efforts to address deficiencies in the voter lists and the new restrictions on the use of supplemental voter list, among others.

According to Mr. Ryan, the atmosphere at poll opening was calm, and the polls opened in an orderly manner. He says the measure implemented to address the difficulties in the first round were reported to have positively impacted queue management and the flow of voters.

He says at polling places observed by the Carter Center, staff adequately complied with procedures for the opening of stations and almost all polling places opened on time, or on short delay.

"Of all of what were observed, we strongly recommend a careful review of the timing of election and the timeframes for resolving electoral disputes with the aim of condensing this timeline and streamlining the hearing process," the Carter Center official says.

The Carter Center recommends a thorough review of the voter registration system that builds on the experience of the electoral process, and a robust mechanism for stakeholders' consultation and communication.

--Edited By Winston W. Parley

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