Preliminary findings of the Integrity Watch Liberia have revealed that the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) leads the constant violation of campaign finance regulations including the misuse of state resources across the country.
At the second media briefing on political parties’ campaign financing held in Monrovia on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, the Executive Director of Integrity Watch Liberia, Harold Aidoo said the second preliminary findings encompass three key areas.
He named findings on abuse of incumbency, findings on contributions and expenditure restrictions, and public disclosure indicators.
According to him, the institution found the abuse of incumbency to be pervasive across Liberia’s political landscape. “Violations, including the misuse of state resources, unfair advantages for incumbent candidates, and breaches of campaign finance regulations, have been reported across multiple counties,” he added.
Mr. Aidoo stressed that the Coalition for Democratic Change emerged as a frequent violator, raising concerns about the equitable use of state resources during campaigns.
Among the 15 counties, Mr. Aidoo said Montserrado recorded 30 cases, in which the CDC violated 21, the Liberal Transformation Party one, the Unity Party one, and independent candidates violated seven.
He averred that the findings reveal a complex web of campaign finance practices, with multiple political parties and independent candidates violating contributions and expenditure restrictions.
“Montserrado County stood out with a high number of reported violations in this category, emphasizing the urgency of robust oversight and enforcement mechanisms. These violations point to a potential lack of adherence to campaign finance regulations, which can undermine the fairness and integrity of the electoral process,” the Integrity Watch Liberia Boss stated.
Harold stressed that alarming numbers of candidates across several counties have refused to disclose their financial activities to the public, noting that this reluctance to provide transparency and accountability in campaign finance practices raises significant concerns.
He said transparency and public disclosure are fundamental pillars of democratic governance, and the refusals to disclose financial information threaten the credibility of the political process.
“The public’s right to know about campaign finances and potential influences on candidates is compromised when candidates refuse to provide this information,” the statement added.
At the same time, Mr. Harold Aidoo stressed that the implications of these findings are far-reaching; adding that non-disclosure, abuse of incumbency, and violations of campaign finance regulations can erode public trust in the political system.
He emphasized that the lack of transparency and accountability may foster corruption, create inequalities in political influence, and undermine the principles of fair competition.
“Legal and ethical concerns arise when candidates and parties fail to comply with regulations, potentially leading to legal consequences and further erosion of trust. Ultimately, the integrity of Liberia’s democracy is at stake when these issues persist,” Mr. Aidoo noted.
Meanwhile, Integrity Watch Liberia recommended to the National Elections Commission to strengthen campaign finance regulations to ensure clear guidelines and consequences for violations.
The institution boss, Mr. Harold Aidoo wants the NEC to enhance oversight mechanisms and enforcement of campaign finance regulations, including the promotion of a culture of transparency, ethics, and accountability among candidates and political parties.
“Encourage civic engagement, media scrutiny, and civil society involvement to hold political actors accountable. Foster public awareness campaigns on the importance of transparency and public disclosure in political campaigns,” he concluded.