GBARNGA, Bong-The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC), has concluded a policy dialogue with representatives of political parties, civil society organizations, local government officials, youth groups and women organizations in Gbarnga, Bong County. The forum brought together more than 60 participants.
Officials of the ECC, Eddie Jarwolo, said the policy dialogues are being held in eight counties. He named the counties as Bong, Grand Bassa, Margibi, Nimba, Bomi and Grand Gedeh. Others include, Montserrado and Lofa. Mr. Jarwolo who served as the lead facilitator said the forums are designed to educate the representatives of political parties, CSOs and the media on the importance of the exhibition process to citizens as well as the Corrections, Claims and Objections process.
“Political parties, CSOs and Media need to educate citizens on the importance of the exhibition process and how, who, where and when to file an objection. This is why the ECC is making sure that citizens across the country clearly understand how to conduct civic education on the exhibition process and how to file an objection,” Jarwolo told the gathering during the opening.
Jarwolo said the ECC is informing participants that the person who puts forth the challenge during the exhibition period must prove all challenges in person. He told participants the determination of objections shall be made by the Magistrate at the Magistrate’s office during the period for determination of objection, which shall be announced and posted at the magistrate office.
He also told participants that objector must appear in person, that the Magistrate will notifies the person who is objected, that the burden of proof is on the objector, the person objected must have the chance to refute the evidence provided and if one or both of the parties are not present, the Magistrate upon proof shall proceed with the determination.
He said, if the objection is denied, the reasons for the denial must be made known to the objector and recorded. He said challenges would be based on the nationality of an applicant not being Liberian, the age of applicant not being the required voting age, the mental health or the applicant not being normal and the applicant being a felon or convict.
The National Elections Commission (NEC) has set June 12-17 for exhibition of provisional registration roll in Liberia for the upcoming elections in October. The ECC will observe the entire Exhibition process across the 73 electoral districts focusing on Claims and Objections aspect and he encouraged political parties to also observe the process that would raise the standard of transparency and openness of the electoral process.
He said the ECC also used the forum to share its findings of the Voter Registration observation with the participants.
Jarwolo said the ECC deployed a total of 89 district and county observers during VR process across the country.
“The ECC observed 849 of the 2,080 voter registration centers in the 73 electoral districts in the country and documented our observation report,” Jarwolo said.
Participants lauded the ECC for the initiative and vowed to reach out to citizens with the awareness.
“We say thank you so much for coming to explain these things to us. This is what we want, when we ourselves understand these issues like this, we are able to educate our people,” Mary Larteh, the Paramount Chief of Jorquelleh Chiefdom.
She encouraged representatives of political parties in particular to explain the importance of the exhibition and objection to their supporters to take advantage of the process.
ECC is providing awareness and opportunity to registered voters and the public to confirm that NEC has correctly recorded information about them as well as providing an opportunity for the public to check the accuracy of the work done by NEC.
The ECC remains the single largest professional civil society platform monitoring, documenting and reporting all aspects of the electoral process and have deployed over 4000 observers during the 2011 and 2014 elections in Liberia.
Members of the ECC include the West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP), the Women NGOs Secretariat, the Action for Genuine Democratic Alternative (AGENDA), the Center for Democratic Governance (CDG), Center for Media Studies and Peace Building. Others are Naymote Partners for Democratic Development and the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD).
The work of the ECC is done in collaboration with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) with support from the United States Agencies for International Development (USAID).