LNBA Ends Stakeholders’ Post-election Dialogue -On Democracy & Peace Consolidation

By: H. Matthew Turry

MONROVIA: The Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA) in collaboration with the National Elections Commission (NEC) with support from the United Nation Development Program (UNDP) climaxed engagement dialogue seeking a commitment by stakeholders to post-election democracy and peace consolidation.

The stakeholders’ engagement dialogue, which was held over the weekend at the LNBA office in Monrovia, was attended by Civil Society Organizations, Security actors, religious leaders, the media community as well as members of the public and other stakeholders.

The engagement dialogue brought to close the UNDP Electoral Support Project that was launched on September 19, 2023, which was aimed at strengthening the legal capacity of Liberian lawyers and providing civic engagement for stakeholders across the fifteen Counties of Liberia.

The objective of the project was to initiate collaboration with the NEC and stakeholders so as to ensure the successful conduct of the 2023 Legislative and Presidential elections, support the NEC on its effectiveness in the disposal of election cases, and increase public knowledge, particularly, of lawyers, aspirants and political parties and leaders regarding the legal aspects of the conduct of electoral process in a bid to minimize the piling of court dockets with electoral disputes.

The project also sought to allow election stakeholders to fully understand the distinction between the courtroom litigation process and administrative hearings conducted by the NEC.

Speaking at closing the session, the Liberia National Bar Association President Cllr. Sylvester D. Rennie extolled the participants for honoring the invitation for the closure of the project, saying that the consolidation of Liberia’s peace and democracy rests on the collective efforts of everyone.

“Today marks the closure of a program that was birthed in September. The concept was developed by the LNBA to ensure a partnership with NEC in connection with the Electoral program, “Cllr. Rennie asserted.

According to him, “Now, we have come to see how we can brainstorm on the consolidation of Liberia peace and democracy … we have called you here for us to brainstorm”, he further said.

He noted that based upon some missteps on the part of lawyers and NEC that the LNBA observed along, the legal body had decided to come in to build the capacity of lawyers, civil society organizations, media, and stakeholders to ensure peaceful elections and understanding of legal electoral processes.

Cllr. Rennie noted that misunderstanding the laws sometimes created problems in the past; saying therefore, the LNBA saw the decongestion of electoral complaints carried by political parties and lawyers as a major concern to be addressed with urgency.

“Also, during the program, the security sector was informed about their roles and responsibilities because some of them were partisan security around here.

“In the first phase of the project, we visited Montserrado, Nimba, Grand Bassa, Bomi, and Grand Gedeh; while the last phase included the rest of the counties. We also provided Civic education during the runoff election”, Cllr Rennie narrated.

For his part, the Executive Director of the Liberia Peacebuilding Office, Mr. Edward K. Mulbah, said to sustain democracy and consolidate peace, there is a need to reform laws and institutions to respond to the contemporary challenges.

Mr. Mulbah, emphasized that the Constitution encapsulates the vision of the country, noting that both the constitution and institutions must be responsive to the collective need for unity and national renewal.

He told the gathering that in order for Liberia to boast of social, economic and infrastructure development, the citizens must first ensure that peace and democracy are fundamental, culturally rooted and well nurtured.

“We need to design a program that enhances the integrity and capacity of state institutions to promote good governance by holding the state and other constituencies, including the private sector accountable, which, he said, will ultimately lead to people’s confidence in the laws and institutions that are meant to serve them”, he explained.

Mr. Cecil Griffith of the National Law Enforcement Association, who also remarked at the occasion, said peace consolidation requires the establishment of a secure environment where citizens feel safe and protected.

Mr. Griffith furthered that to achieve this involves effective law enforcement, a professional and accountable security sector and measures to prevent and address conflicts.

“Peace is enhanced when people have access to basic social services such as education, healthcare, clean water, electricity, as well as economic opportunities. Addressing poverty, inequality, and social exclusion is crucial for sustainable peace consolidation”, he noted.

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