-To Strengthen Liberia’s Electoral Framework
By R. Joyclyn Wea
Liberia Accountability Voice Initiative (LAVI) has proffered several provisions to national government and partners for reform as mean of strengthening the electoral framework of the country.
There are several issues for reform identified through LAVI’s political economy analysis to include the advancing Elections Legal harmonization, improve electoral adjudication, expand civil and voter education efforts and improve code of conduct in keeping with regional practices among other things.
LAVI is further recommending enhancement of women participation and social inclusion and consider (2020) referendum on moving election date.
Speaking during the ECC official launch on electoral reform recently in Sinkor, LAVI Chief of Party, Madam Milica Panic said there is a momentum captured on the heels of 2017 elections, with lessons learned and a consolidation of local and international observer recommendations with clear rationale for reform and as such; the National Election Commission is in the process of drafting legislative electoral reforms and advocacy for legislative harmonization.
Madam Panic explained that LAVI strategy within the elections thematic window is informed by findings and recommendations from a comprehensive political economy analysis done in November and December 2018, where UN interviewed more than fifty electoral stakeholders to get an input on priorities for improving electoral system in Liberia.
“The elections thematic window will consider similar approaches to the natural resources and education thematic windows. It will bring together a diverse range of civil society organizations, government agencies and political parties with Liberia’s electoral system,” she added.
The LAVI Chief of Party emphasized that if Liberia is both to build on incremental gains made since the end of the civil war and avoid post-election violence, it is an opportune time to address some issues with Liberia’s electoral framework and the election administration ahead of the next election cycle.
Madam Panic bewailed “International and local observers and experts, and the national election commission, have issued a number of observer and technical reflection report following each general election, which note a variety of instrumental, constitution and legislative limitations.”
While progress and policy reforms have been made, the policy framework needs improvement and there are recurrent issues that have been raised over multiple election cycles but not systematically addressed yet. Some reforms would require attention and decision making at the highest levels, but the process must also capture the will of Liberia’s voting public,” she noted further.
Madam Panic stressed the need for communities and citizens to be at the core of these electoral reform interventions because many reforms are considered useful when beneficiaries of said reforms are fully aware of what the reforms are.
Accordingly, she noted that LAVI is committed to a participatory and inclusive approach, and aims to build on existing knowledge and capacity and foster collaborative relationships that can give way to change in governance.
Meanwhile, the elections coordinating committee had officially launch a new project on election reform aim at Strengthening Liberia’s Democracy through Electoral Reform.
This is to ensure electoral credibility (free, fair and transparent democratic elections in Liberia); and address gaps and challenges within Liberia’s electoral framework including the 1986 Constitution, New Elections Law (NEL) and regulations.
The goal of this project is to contribute to improve Liberia’s electoral legal framework so that it is consistent and responsive to future elections in Liberia.
The overall objectives of the project is to among other things: refine and publicize the NEC-ECC reform agenda to include several amendments to the New Elections Law, amendment of the Code of Conduct of Public Officials, and amendment of the Constitution to change the election date.
This is to actively engage the Legislature of Liberia and national government stakeholders to advocate for Electoral reform agenda and also design and implement a robust advocacy campaign to publicize NEC-Electoral reform agenda and engender grassroots support for reform to spur legislative action on electoral reform.
National Elections Commission, Political Parties, LEON, Other CSOs, Youth, Women and Marginalized Groups, Media, Traditional Leaders, Religious Leaders, Trade Unions, Marketing Association, International Organizations, ECOWAS, and AU ETTC are the driving force of this new project.