MONROVIA: As stakeholders continue to form synergy with the view of ensuring a the international best practice is accorded the ensuing general elections, the Liberian National Bar Association said it is gratified by the signing of a memorandum of Understanding with the National Elections Commission(NEC) for peaceful conduct of the October 10, 2023 general elections. LNBA averred that the July 11, 2023, memorandum of understanding signed between it and NEC has the basis for the LNBA’s strategic support to the NEC to ensure that credible and transparent elections are conducted with the mass participation of Liberians consistent with law.
According to a press release issued on Tuesday, July 25, 2023 and signed by Cllr. Bornor M. Vamah, National Secretary General of LNBA, under the MoU, the LNBA will provide legal support to the NEC by sensitizing the public through the holding of public conversation on the elections Laws and rulings of both the NEC and Supreme Court on past election cases as well as advocating for the adherence of the rule of law by all actors during the electoral process.
The release also stated that additionally, the LNBA shall provide support to enhance the legal capacity of NEC to be effective in the adjudication of electoral disputes and increase public knowledge on electoral dispute resolution mechanism; especially working with all stakeholders. It said LNBA shall sensitize the public on the calendar of events covering the entire process as well as provide training support to electoral staff to include elections magistrates, hearing officers, political parties’ representatives, independent candidates, media organizations and others on the disposition of all electoral disputes.
“Under the MoU which is for the period of one year, the Bar shall organize engagement meetings with relevant international partners to seek their support and collaboration to address issues around electoral violence as well as organize meetings with CSOs, religious leaders, joint security about the potential risks associated with early warning signs of conflict. The LNBA shall provide training support to Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), security sector, media organizations etc on the effective, efficient and timely disposition of electoral complaints and also enhance the knowledge of LNBA members on the differences between courtroom litigation and electoral dispute resolution i.e. Litigation Vs Administrative Hearings. The LNBA has agreed wholly to formulate a long term capacity development and training plan for its members and the NEC with support to come from the UNDP and partners”, the release said.
The release further said to implement the short-term interventions under the MoU, the UNDP Electoral Support Program with support from the Swedish, Irish, and the European Union (EU), is to provide One Hundred Fifty thousand United States Dollars(150,000 USD). The short-term activities will be implemented within six months.
With respect to the role of NEC, the electoral body, in collaboration with the Bar, will organize stakeholder conferences to do stock-taking amongst the LNBA, NEC and the Supreme Court and Peace Building Office on all electoral interventions, recruit Hearing Officers and clerks and prepare them for training and set up a case management system for optimum efficiency, l provide strategic information and education plan on Electoral Dispute Resolution targeting political parties and other stakeholders to be rolled out for the smooth conduct of the electoral activities as well as the two institutions, shall hold experience-sharing sessions on ethical aspects of the EDR to withstand political pressure on the NEC senior leadership.
“The NEC will from time to time consult with the LNBA and raise any concerns regarding presentations made by any assigned lawyers on any related electoral matter. Two parties under the MoU have agreed that any lawyer performing legal services shall do so in keeping with the highest professional standard”, the release said.
In a related development, the Leadership of the Liberia National Bar Association has commended the Chairperson of the NEC, Madam Davidetta Browne-Lansanah and the Board of Commissioners, the UNDP Electoral Support Program, the Swedish and Irish Governments and the EU for their support actualize a mechanism that will enhance Liberia’s democratic credential. The Bar says to satisfy one of the principles of any vibrant rule of law system, it would encourage all eligible voters to freely participate in the October 2023 elections to decide their leader which is consistent with law.