The African Union (AU), European Union (EU), Carter Center and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) have deployed election observer missions to Liberia ahead of the October 10 presidential and legislative elections.
So far, the AU has sent 13 long-term observers to the country who are currently observing the election preparatory process to ensure transparency during the polls.
Three members of the AU observer mission met with the National Elections Commission (NEC) Chairman Jerome George Korkoya this week and raised issues including the availability of the final voter register.
The team included Coordinator Francis Kissinger Kakai, Election Gender Analyst Ellen Dingani and Political and Media Analyst Dr. Maximillina Kolbe Domapielle.
Korkoya said the final voter register has been made available to the registered political parties after their release on September 10.
He also noted the difficulty they are facing including difficulty in reaching some parts of the country including Gbarpolu, Lofa and Nimba counties which have deplorable roads.
He said they are in discussions with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to help in airlifting some of the voting materials to these areas during the election period.
The AU Ambassador to Liberia Ibrahim Karama said the observer team will extend its mission in the country until the results are released.
The EU Election Observation Mission also deployed 20 long-term observers from 20 different Member States of the European Union to the regions in Liberia on Friday.
They are supported by 34 short-term observers who will be deployed throughout the country together with locally recruited short-term observers.
They will stay in Liberia beyond election day as they monitor the process without interfering or supervising, said Deputy Chief Observer Alessandro Parziale.
“The EU EOM will assess the elections according to Liberia’s national law and the international commitments it has made regarding elections. It will focus on the entire electoral process, including the legal framework, electoral administration, voter registration, nominations, campaigning, the conduct of the media, voting and the counting, the tally of results and dispute resolution mechanisms,” he said.
“I hope that our team of analysts and observers will contribute with impartial and objective assessments to a democratic transition in Liberia,” he added.
A Core Team of 8 analysts arrived in the capital Monrovia in August consisting of election, political, legal, human rights and gender, finance, media and data analysts.
They will publish initial findings in a preliminary statement to be presented shortly after election day, and a final report with recommendations to be presented at a later stage.
The U.S.-based Carter Center delegation led by Director Meaghan Fitzgerald met with the electoral commission on the preaparation towards the election.
They also raised issues about code of conduct which the NEC Chairman Jerome George Korkoya said the challenge they are facing is the declaration of assets by candidates and parties as stipulated by Article 83 D of the Liberian Constitution.
He said the candidates and parties have 30 days from September 1 to do the declaration or face the law. Per the NEC’s records, 9 registered parties have submitted the requirement, he added.
National Democratic Institute (NDI)
The NDI led by its head Ambassador Johnnie Carson, former Assistant United States Secretary of State for African Affairs, also raised issues about the NEC’s election dispute resolution mechanisms.
Korkoya said they are prepared to deal with any dispute as 19 magistrates and 4 regional coordinators have been trained to handle cases at the county level, while extra lawyers have been hired to handle appeals.
He reminded the political parties that the electoral commission is where to channel grievances before seeking final redress at the Supreme Court.
20 candidates are vying for president while 986 candidates are standing for 73 seats in the House of Representatives.
2,183,683 people out of the country’s 4.6 million population have registered to vote. There are 5,390 voting centers across the country in 2080 voting precincts.