17 June 2019

Liberia: NEC Launches Electoral Reform Campaign

Authorities of the National Elections Commission (NEC) said they will very soon kick-start the long-awaited reform in its electoral law. This follows several concerns many people, civil society actors, and other politicians have raised. Representatives of the CSOs have expressed several disappointments in certain portions of the country's elections law.

According to a NEC press release dated Friday, June 14, 2019, and signed by its acting director of communications, Prince L. Dunbar, the Commission announced the departure of a seven-man team to Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County for an awareness campaign on the reform of some of the elections law.

"The NEC Electoral Law Reform sensitization and awareness campaign comes from several recommendations from the 2017 presidential elections advanced to the Commission by elections stakeholders, including civil society organizations, political parties as well as international observers and partners. The campaign is carried out in line with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) elections support in Liberia," the release said.

Dunbar said following a two-week national consultation on electoral law reform, a national validation process will be launched to compile a bill that the legislature will enact into law.

According to Mr. Dunbar, the enactment exercise will come from several propositions that will be collected from across the 15 counties, which the NEC developed into a comprehensive bill for enactment into law by the 54th Legislature.

"The seven-man technical delegation will on Tuesday, June 18, 2019, begin phase one of the electoral law reform campaign in Zwedru through an open engagement with several stakeholders from Maryland, Grand Kru and River Gee Counties," Mr. Dunbar said.

He added that phase two of the electoral law reform awareness campaign with stakeholders from Bong, Lofa, and Nimba counties will begin on Thursday, June 20, 2019 in Gbarnga City, and will be followed by phase three on Monday, June 24, 2019 for stakeholders from Grand Bassa, River Cess, and Margibi counties.

"Phase four which will mark the end of the awareness campaign in Tubmanburg, Bomi, on Wednesday, June 26, 2019. This will include stakeholders from Gbarpolu and Grand Cape Mount counties," Mr. Dunbar said.

The NEC says it is anticipated that about 500 stakeholders, including paramount chiefs, district commissioners, and representatives from professional institutions, women and youth groupings from around the country will participate in the two weeks elections law reform exercise.

Others to participate are representatives of physically challenged organizations, as well as the business community.

It can recalled that, during the 2017 presidential and representative elections, several complaints, including the Commission's adjudication of cases, in which it was associated or involved as a party, came forth from many political parties and representatives of civil society organizations.

The NEC's seven-man technical team is expected to be headed by Attorney Nathan P. Garbie, who is currently the deputy executive director for programs.

Those to follow Mr. Garbie are Paul Wreh-Wilson, director of civic voter education (CVE); Jappah Nah, deputy field coordinator; and Attorney James Wallace, director for training and procedures, as well as the administrative assistant to NEC chairman Cllr. Jerome G. Kokoya, Sekor Soko-Sackor.

According to the release, the team will discuss several laws that were difficult to implement during the 2017 representative and presidential elections. These include, but are not limited to, voter registration, hearing and adjudication of electoral disputes, nomination procedures and the law controlling domicile.


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