Fmr. Pres. Jonathan, Delegation Meet NEC -Discuss issues around 2023 Elections

By Stephen G. Fellajuah 

MONROVIA: As part of their mission to meet critical stakeholders in Liberia with respect to the ensuing 2023 general elections, former Nigerian President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and a former Prime Minister of Burkina Faso and current President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadrie Desire Ouedrago yesterday, Wednesday, July 12, 2023, paid a courtesy call on the Chairperson of the National Elections Commission(NEC), Madam Davidetta Brown-Lassanah and members of the Board of Commissioners to discuss key electoral issues ahead of the upcoming October 10, 2023 general elections.

In her welcoming statement, Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah, welcomed the former Nigerian President and delegation to Liberia and said she is sure the visit to the National Elections Commission is in line with all of the principles and protocols of ECOWAS and that the Commission anticipates that these dialogues especially with NEC will be fruitful as the country is on the road to the conduct of the October 10, 2023 presidential and legislative elections.

In his brief statement during the opening of the forum, former Nigerian President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan thanked the Commission for receiving them and emphasized that it is a critical period for the NEC as the country heads to elections on October 10 this year.

He said when elections are coming up in any country in the subregion, the West African Elders Forum with the head of states and the head of ECOWAS, whom he said have the general information about West Africa make it their prerogative to undertake pre- election visits to interface with the key actors especially the institution of government that manages elections.

He made it clear that they are technically not observers of elections so they do not report or make valid statements on the results of elections but indicated that when issues are coming up they can make interventions to ensure that the issues do not subvert the process.

Referencing his own experience, he averred that when citizens have confidence in the electoral body and the security then it shows that they will believe in the outcome of the elections, but if people doubt the neutrality of the electoral management body and the security of course they will question the results of the elections.

“We are here to have a brief interaction with you on your preparedness to conduct the October 10 elections. Some of the issues that citizens raised especially the political actors in terms of voter registration, adequate voter education, political practice, your plan to ensure voting is done properly and votes are correlated properly among others are key to what we will discuss”, he pinpointed.

In conclusion, he congratulated President George Manneh Weah for appointing the current Board of Commissioners (BOC), especially having more women on the team.

After hearing from Mr. Jonathan, NEC boss Madam Brown-Lassanah briefed the delegation that the Commission has been planning for the 2023 elections two years ago and has conducted biometric voter registration for the first time which she said generated over 2.4m registered Liberians.

“NEC has also conducted an exhibition which is a verification process by registrants to ensure whether the information the NEC received is correct and where the Commission needs to make corrections will do so going forward, adding that the Commission is currently conducting a nomination process that is concluding this week”, she said.

In concluding, she pointed out that, “Generally we are on course, though you have outlined some areas which we need to address. As you mentioned, we have issues with finances but we continue to work with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning so that whatever challenges they have will not affect the electoral process to the extent where there may be a need for dialogue or any form of postponement, which we do not anticipate”.

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