Ahead of the 2017 General and Presidential Elections, political parties in Liberia have strongly called on the National Elections Commission (NEC) and the Liberian government to put proper mechanisms into place aimed at the conduct of free, fair, transparent and credible presidential and legislative elections.
Attending a one-day dialogue organized by the Governance Commission (GC) on Wednesday, November 19, 2015 to discuss issues relating to electoral disputes and how they could be possibly resolved, representatives of various political parties in the country stressed the importance of speedily addressing issues by the National Elections Commission (NEC) and the Supreme Court of Liberia.
They also called for creation of a smooth environment and a level-playing field for all candidates.
They underscored the need for NEC to speedily address any grievances arising from the conduct of the elections and that the Supreme Court of Liberia should address electoral matters with urgency and credibility so as to guarantee public confidence in the electoral process.
The parties said the pending elections would be peaceful depending on the activities of NEC and the Supreme Court of Liberia in addressing the grievances of aggrieved candidates and political parties.
“I want to first of all take this time to appreciate the Governance Commission for holding such a forum. Let me say for free that a violent free election can be achieved when there are right mechanisms in place,” Lafayette Gould, Chairman of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) stated.
“The NEC and the Supreme Court have a responsibility to within a timely manner respond to issues raised by political parties or independent candidates who may feel cheated during the electoral process,” he added.
He frowned on the apparent delay of electoral hearings by the Supreme Court of Liberia, noting that it has the propensity to cause violent emotions that may tend to derail the nation’s fragile peace.
For his part, the Secretary General of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), Urias Cole, stressed the need for the financial empowerment of the NEC.
He said NEC’s apparent inability to adequately decentralize the voting centers across the country may be one of the recipes for violence ahead of the 2017 elections.
“The NEC has not been able to open precincts in every parts of the country as a result of such shortcomings, electorate in those regions have been denied their right to exercise their franchise,” he mentioned.
The CDC Secretary General added that most people who may feel cheated may likely result to violence and as such, better atmosphere must be crated to ensure free and fair elections.
Also speaking at the forum, Unity Party National Secretary General Wilmot Paye, hailed GC for the organization of the one day dialogue but said more of such forums are needed until the holding of the pending elections.
“Such gathering is helpful for emerging democratic process. We understand there are challenges within the country’s electoral sector but dialoging these challenges with political stakeholders ahead of an election period is paramount” he accentuated.
Supported by the African Development Bank, the GC one –day dialogue on electoral dispute resolution brought together representatives from the over 30 political parties in the country.
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