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USAID TO FUND 2023 ELECTION OBSERVERS THROUGH ECC, EISA

The U.S. Embassy in Monrovia has confirmed that USAID would be supporting local and international observers to monitor the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) process through to the elections.

The Embassy has at the same also refuted media reports that it is sending 200 observers through the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) due to the lack of confidence in the country’s electoral system.

“Our support for domestic and international observers does not indicate any lack of faith on our part in the ability of the NEC to carry out the elections and is not unique to Liberia. Rather, it is a standard package of support we provide for elections in many countries in which we work across the world,” the Embassy stated.

According to the Embassy, USAID-Liberia would be funding the Elections Coordinating Committee, a local network of civil society organizations focused on elections to deploy short-term and long-term domestic observers.

USAID would also be funding the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), a non-governmental organization based in South Africa, to deploy short and long-term international observers.

According to the Embassy, USAID seeks to support the credibility and integrity of the 2023 elections through these efforts to observe, assess, and report to the public on all phases of the electoral process.

Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) is currently engaged in a number of activities as part of its preparations for the country’s first-ever biometric voter registration process.

Come 20 March, Liberians will for the first time in their history begin registering biometrically for general elections. Voters go to the polls on 10 October to elect a new president and members of the bi-cameral parliament.

Apart from ongoing sensitization campaigns on the importance of voter registration, the NEC is also training some of its staff who will in turn train others on the use of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) system which is supplied by Laxton Group.

NEC also said a national stakeholders’ dialogue for confidence building and continual education on the BVR process will take place on 3 March in six counties.

The event which will take place in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, will “set forth the platform for Liberians of all walks of life to share notes and get firsthand education on the workings and benefits of the new technology.”

“The Commission will also use the dialogue to explain the step-by-step processes of the BVR, especially for the purposes of attracting the full participation of first-time-voters. The two-day event, the Commission believes, will reduce the falsehoods and misconceptions currently held by some segments of the voting population in the country,” notes the release.

According to the NEC, the new system which is based on fingerprints and face biometrics will make de-duplication easier and will also discourage double registration by unscrupulous citizens, as the six counties concerned with this dialogue are those where the BVR exercise will happen first.

The first phase of the registration will run from 20 March to 9 April, while the second phase which will involve nine counties will take place from 21 April to 11 May, the release recalls.

The stakeholders include representatives of civil society and faith-based organizations, youth organizations, professional and academic institutions, political parties, the Liberia National Police, the Liberia Marketing Association and transport unions. Other attendees are district commissioners, city mayors, and local and traditional leaders, to name these few.

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