Liberia: Delayed Population Census, Controversial Biometric Voter Roll Bid Process Could Cause Conflict – ECC and Leon Observes

Monrovia — The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) and the Liberia Elections Observation Network (LEON) say the delay in the conduct of the national population census and the manner in which the National Elections Commission (NEC) is proceeding with the biometric voter roll for the 2023 elections are early warning indicators for conflict.

Cllr. Oscar Bloh, the executive director of the ECC warned that the credibility of voter registration is a prerequisite for the conduct of a credible election and as such due care must be taken in the conduct of the exercise.

Cllr. Bloh said the credibility of elections is key to sustaining the peace and security of the state. He said the process requires time, openness, inclusion, and timely allocation of resources from the national government.

He further said the delay in the conduct of the national census and voter registration stands to risk ‘qualified voters from being captured to vote in the 2023 election due to the inability of the NEC to reappropriate constituencies based on the new population figures in adherence to Article 80(d) and (e) of the Constitution.’

According to him, conducting census and voter registration in the same year with limited awareness could undermine the quality of the electoral process and the integrity of its outcome.

Cllr. Bloh: “Liberia uses the census and voter registration as the base data for demarcation, and with this delay and uncertainty chances, the country may run into a crisis leading to the creation of other electoral districts with high ratios of voters representatives which will serve as a hindrance to equal representation.

“It is shocking that less than one year before the elections, these pre-required processes which should have already been concluded are yet to begin in less than a year to elections and these combined factors have the propensity to reduce public trust in the electoral process,” he said.

ECC, LEON Recommendations

The two groups are, however, recommending that the government of Liberia through the responsible institutions including NEC, and the PPCC have an internal discussion to reach a compromise on the procurement of the BVR kit without necessarily violating the PPCC law and ensure the credibility and integrity of the process.

They called for the selection of the vendor by the NEC to be done in a transparent and accountable manner with timely dissemination of information to the public.

Also, the two groups called on NEC and LISGIS to develop a framework on how census data will be used for the reapportioning of constituencies.

Lastly, they also ask all international development partners supporting the conduct of the 2023 elections to regularly meet with political parties, the electoral body, and CSOs on formulating scenarios that have the potential to undermine the electoral process and how they can be mitigated.

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