A consortium of Liberian media and leading civil society organizations will today commence the first of two major presidential debates for all candidates ahead of the October 10, 2023 polls.
Those in phase one are President George M. Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Joseph N. Boakai of Unity Party (UP) Alexander B. Cummings of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) Simeon C.M. Freeman of Movement for Progressive Change Allen R. Brown Jr of the Liberia Restoration Party (LRP) Bendu Alehma Kromah – Independent candidate Lusinee F. Kamara Sr. of the All Liberian Coalition Party (ALCOP) Richard Saye Miller of the Liberians for Prosperity (LFP) William Wiah Tuider of the Democratic National Allegiance (DNA) and Joshua Tom Turner of the New Liberia Party (NLP).
The initiative is part of support for electoral democracy in Liberia and it is funded by USAID Media Activity.
This presidential debate seeks to promote informed decision-making, enhance electoral transparency, foster civic engagement, facilitate policy analysis, and ensure equal representation of all candidates.
Following today debates to be held at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Ministerial Complex in Monrovia, the second and final phase will be held in Gbarnga at the Administration Building in Bong County on October 6.
All 20 presidential candidates certified by the National Elections Commission (NEC) to contest the October 10 polls were officially invited though only ten candidates will feature in the first phase of the debate.
The debate-organizing Consortium includes the Liberia Media for Democratic Initiatives (LMDI), the Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP), the Amos C. Sawyer Foundation, the Association of Community Radios (ALICOR), Local Voices Liberia, and the Female Journalists Association of Liberia (FeJAL), amongst others.
These presidential debates offer the opportunity for citizens to learn about the candidates’ positions on key issues, their policy proposals, and their vision for the future, enabling citizens to make informed choices during the elections.
It also enhances electoral transparency and encourages accountability, by creating a public forum for candidates to discuss their platforms, defend their positions, and address voters’ concerns.
The Consortium of media and civil society organizations is also positive that the presidential debates will support civic engagement and promote voter participation, by offering a platform for increased interaction between the candidates and the public.
At the same time, the debate will also facilitate policy analysis by encouraging critical examination of candidates’ policy proposals and allowing voters to compare and evaluate candidates’ ideas, plans, and strategies for the future.
The debates will provide fair and equal opportunities for all candidates, regardless of their political affiliation, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic background.
The two debates will be broadcast live on several radio stations nationwide and live streamed on social media (Facebook) to ensure that all Liberians, home and abroad are able to follow the candidates speaking on critical national issues.