Enshrined in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement for the restoration of peace and stability in Liberia is a provision for the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, and other international organizations to jointly supervise and conduct the proposed Liberian elections in October 2005. The well thought out decision to include this important provision was no accident. Liberians have had bitter experiences with rigged elections and disastrous electoral irregularities, over the years. Mrs. Frances Johnson-Morris, the chairperson of the National Elections Commission mentioned some of these irregularities during her induction ceremony in Monrovia.
Article IX 4(a) of the agreement provides that the Parties agree that the Transitional Government which is to be established in Liberia shall request the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, and other members of the international community, as appropriate, to jointly conduct, monitor and supervise the next elections in the country.
The presidential and general elections scheduled for October 2005, are likely to be one of the most contentious, and in many ways, the most important in the history of Liberia. The hope is the elections will help to establish the foundation for enduring democratic institutions and a pluralistic society. In this connection, it is absolutely essential for the electoral process to be jointly internationally supervised and conducted, as provided by the Accra Peace Agreement.
The effort by the Gyude Bryant interim government to expand the National Elections Commission to include five international commissioners must be lauded. However, the government needs to read Article IX 4(a) of the Accra Peace Agreement and invite the relevant members of the international community to jointly supervise and conduct the elections as stipulated in the agreement. It is appropriate for the international community to jointly supervise and conduct the elections because Liberia has a long history of electoral fraud.
In addition, the Gyude Bryant interim government must make every effort to provide the opportunity for every Liberian to participate in what is turning out to be the most important elections in the history of Liberia. If the 2005 presidential and general elections are free and fair, the results will once and for all resolve the leadership question in Liberia. The elections will also give the Liberian people the opportunity to decide which political party or “political individual” has the best plan to democratize Liberia, initiate socio-economic development programs and restore the dignity and pride of the Liberian people.
Ultimately, the international supervision of the 2005 national and general elections and the participation of as many Liberians as possible in the electoral process will guarantee the acceptance of the results by all the participants, as well as the international community.