Liberia is at a Crossroads Leading to 2023
MONROVIA-The Executive Director of the National Youth Movement for Transparent Elections (NAYMOTE), Eddie D. Jarwolo, has commended the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and international partners for their support in sustaining the democratic gains in Liberia.
However, Mr. Jarwolo is warning the Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) and international partners that the 2023 election is expected to test the credibility and strength of the national institutions, particularly those tasked with various aspects of the election, from election administration to security and dispute resolution.
He said it is also likely to further expose the extent of state fragility should the institutions including the national elections commission, national security apparatus and the courts fail to deliver more effectively on their mandates.
“Liberia has made some democratic gains with the conduct of three successive presidential and legislative elections that is 2005, 2011, and 2017 but peace in Liberia remains fragile with the 2023 presidential and general elections slated for October 10, 2023, put Liberia at a crossroads”, Mr. Jarwolo stressed.
NAYMOTE Executive Director pointed to one of the state institutions that some people especially the opposition youth perceived the Police as ‘partisan police’ and a lack of trust in these institutions is likely to translate into a lack of trust in the entire electoral process when the same institutions remain in charge without substantial reforms.
This is further compounded by inadequate financial and human resources to expand the operations of the Liberian National Police to all counties, particularly those considered to be conflict-prone.
Mr. Jarwolo spoke Monday at the One UN House during the Ambassadorial Level Meeting organized by the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, a United Nations intergovernmental advisory body of both the General Assembly and the Security Council that supports peace efforts in conflict-affected countries. The event was held virtually.
He stated that this vulnerability is particularly alarming with the increasing ownership of radio stations in the counties by politicians that are branded as community radios.
Mr. Jarwolo: “Of grave concern is the issue of political militancy across the country which could be a threat to sustaining peace and democracy if not addressed adequately”.
He further spoke of a plan to transition from Manual Voter Registration to the Biometric Voter Registration system is likely to improve the quality and credibility of the process.
This, the NAYMOTE Boss said will likely reduce instances of multiple voting, fraud, and other irregularities that the manual registration process has been unable to identify and resolve.
He said also references some of the changes made by the National Legislature to the New Elections Law to increase women’s political participation and the adjudication of electoral petitions as the law will broaden the space for participation, particularly for women, and increase the number of women in the legislature.
He called on the President, George Weah to sign into law an amended code of conduct, and electoral law that is needed to enhance credibility and the timely allocation of efficient financial resources to the NEC for election administration.
Mr. Jarwolo indicated that the back-and-forth proceedings between the NEC and the PPCC are a clear demonstration of the lack of coordination and collaboration that are needed for the timely procurement of election materials.
Mr. Jarwolo said the existence of two active and independent domestic elections observation groups, the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) and Liberia Elections Observation Network (LEON), as independent citizen observer groups will boost the legitimacy and credibility of the outcomes of the polls.
He appreciated the continuous interest of the international community and development partners especially the United Nations and the Peacebuilding Commission to provide financial and technical support to the electoral process and follow up on key developments.
Mr. Jarwolo made mention of a project on a peaceful electoral environment will be a great opportunity to mitigate electoral violence and improve electoral outcomes, the UNDP Electoral Support Project, Peacebuilding Office, and UN Women sustained support continue to impact women’s and youth political participation, among others.
The Ambassadorial level meeting was chaired by Her Excellency Ms. Anna Karin Enestrom, Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission on Liberia.
Other speakers included Liberia’s Ministers of Foreign Affairs, and Internal Affairs, Co-Chairperson of the National Elections Commission, and United Nations, Resident Coordinator, Ambassador, Niels Scott.