Liberia Moves Toward New Democracy
Updates regarding the scheme indicate that accessible centers across the country have started a full scale registration of eligible voters and the momentum is said to be high as Liberians are anxiously anticipating a democratically elected government in 2006.
Though the exercise is on course, disgruntled Internally Displaced Persons are reportedly protesting that unless they were repatriated they will not register to vote in October.
The threat was revealed on Radio Veritas Talk Show- Tropical Issue yesterday when a caller from Margibi expressed his concern about threat made by certain IDPs whom he quoted as saying that they won’t take part in the process unless repatriated.
About one thousand five hundred centers and over four thousand election workers have been secured by the National Elections Commission (NEC) to conduct the 11 October 2005 general and presidential elections.
Meanwhile, a UNDP release said, about 1.5 million Liberians are expected
to register for the election.
The landmark elections – during which voters will also choose a vice president and members of the Senate and House of Representatives – are called for in the August 2003 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended Liberia’s 14-year civil war. But organizing the polls is no easy task for this West African country, which is still rebuilding, working to sustain its peace and foster reconciliation and recovery.
A new electoral law signed by Charles Gyude Bryant, Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia, removed the primary requirement for citizens to show a birth certificate or a passport – document often lost during the war-to register to vote. Today, all Liberians over 18 years old can register if they are confirmed by a traditional leader who appears in person at the registration center or by sworn testimony of two other registered individuals, who also have to appear in person.
UNDP has also contracted 10 local CSOs to begin a US$223,000 intensive voters education programme. “We very much count on you to deliver the very much needed civil empowerment for all the people of Liberia so that they can make informed choices during the upcoming election”, said UNDP’s Country Director, Steve Ursino during a recent grant-signing ceremony with these groups. UNDP’s overall financial support to Liberia’s elections is about $536,000.
A $3.8 million contribution from European Commission, including $500,00 to computerize voter rolls, is also managed by UNDP. It is part of a $18.9 million programme from several donors supporting the NEC. This assistance aims to build the NEC’s capacity to enforce electoral rules and put in place systems, process and procedures that will guarantee independent, fair, transparent and democratic elections.