MONROVIA – As the electoral process towards the ensuing general election builds up, the National Elections Commission (NEC) on Saturday, February 18, 2023, held a very important meeting with a visiting assessment team from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which is in the country to assess the preparation process, which includes the readiness of NEC and other stakeholders and challenges being encountered with the view of providing solution and support to the exercise leading to the successful holding of a free and fair election later this year.
At a brief welcome ceremony shortly before they went into closed door discussion, the Chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC) Mrs. Davidetta Brown-Lassanah said she was excited to welcome the two-man ECOWAS team to Liberia and extolled the contributions being made the regional body towards the process of peace and democracy in the country.
“ECOWAS has always played a big and critical role in Liberia’s peace process particularly in the last two decades and has given immeasurable support to our democratic process here through sustained engagements with stakeholders and actors including NEC.
“And so, we at the Commission thought it wise to call on the ECOWAS office in Liberia through Ambassador Josephine Nkrumah to provide for the first time conduct of the Biometric Voters Registration in Liberia’s election.
“We are emphasizing administrative and technical support to assist the commission roll out its biometric system to strengthen time management.
“You will recall that in 2017, ECOWAS technical team was deployed to the commission to work with our technicians to clean the voter’s roll thus ensuring credibility of the final roster prior to the conduct of the election.
“The Commission believes that similar assistance can build confidence in our biometric process” she said.
Madam Brown-Lassanah who led the full board of NEC commissioners to the event emphatically said NEC was grateful to the ECOWAS commission for staying the course on Liberia and welcomed the intervention of ECOWAS to ensure a resounding success of the BVR in Liberia
For her part, Ambassador Nkrumah who introduced the team said ECOWAS attaches serious importance to the democratization process in every constituent member state and it will do what it takes within its means to ensure that the Liberian election is supported to fullest in order to have a credible process.
She also acknowledged that democracy is maturing in the country since the first election was held after the end of the civil war in which the regional body played a key role, including restoring peace and supporting subsequent elections along with other partners.
Speaking on behalf of the team, Mr. Francis Okey, who is heading the team said he was happy to be in the country on behalf of ECOWAS to assess the situation surrounding the election and will definitely make report on their return with the view of the authority of the regional organization making informed decision towards a successful election.
He said since the arrival of the team, which also included Mr. Ebenezer Asiedu, it has engaged various stakeholders including the government, the political parties and civil society groups where all of the institutions assured the team of their commitment to the process as well as informing the team of some concerns they felt should be addressed so as to have a peaceful and credible election.
“We have been meeting various groups and they have assured us they are committed and serious about the entire process. We also listened to them on some concerns and as a regional group that is committed to a free and fair election, we welcomed those concerns and will be making our report upon our return. We are very sure that the report will be looked at and Liberians can be assured of the support of ECOWAS towards the election”, Mr. Okey said.
The coming of a team from ECOWAS is being viewed by many as a welcome development as the momentum towards the election is building as well as some concerns are being raised which need to be addressed so as to accord the process the due credibility it needs. No doubt, ECOWAS which has been one of the key development partners throughout our peace and democratic process will surely be in the position to assist in whatever way possible to have a hitch-free process.