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ECOWAS Concerned About Pending Elections …As Liberia Seeks Help To Roll Out Biometric Registration Process

By Alex Yomah
The Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) mandates the president of the Commission to deploy a technical mission in preparation of October’s general elections.
According to ECOWAS, the mission’s role is to hold consultation with political parties and key stakeholders including Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in support of the peaceful conduct of the pending presidential and legislative polls.
In a final communiqué released on February 18, 2023, Heads of State and Governments of ECOWAS’ concerns were about the electoral processes in the western countries namely Nigeria, Sierra Lone and Liberia, and stated clearly that, the Heads of State and governments have noted that progress have been made but that there are challenges still being encountered in the electoral processes of the three countries that are preparing for Presidential elections this year.
“The Authority called the ECOWAS Commission to expedite the review of the 201 supplementary protocols on Democracy and Good Governance and ensure the completion of this project, with a view to strengthening democratic conduct and stability in the region,” the Communiqué stated.
The Extraordinary summit was convened to examine the progress made with the transitions in Burkina Faso, Guinea, and Mali as well as view the preparation for elections in Nigeria, Sierra Lone and Liberia with an update on the establishment of the regional force against terrorism for the restoration of constitutional orders among the other.
Meanwhile, ECOWAS has voted to maintain sanctions on three countries and has reached a decision to ban officials of those countries from traveling.
Meanwhile, at the foot of that mandate, the National Elections Commission (NEC) has already requested administrative and technical support from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission for the rollout of the Biometric Voter Registration system in Liberia to strengthen data management and to build confidence in the BVR process.
NEC Chairperson, Davidetta Browne Lansanah made that known when she welcomed the two-member fact-finding team from ECOWAS, who was in the country last week to ascertain the status of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR), and preparations for the 2023 General Elections.
Madam Lansanah said NEC thought it wise and appropriate to call on the ECOWAS Commission through the office of Ambassador Josephine Nkrumah to provide support to the first-time conduct of the BVR in Liberia’s elections.
“You will recall in 2017, ECOWAS technical team was deployed to the commission and worked with our technicians to clean the voter roll thus ensuring the credibility of the Final Registration Roll (FRR) prior to the conduct of those elections,” Chairperson Browne Lansanah intimated.
She recalled that ECOWAS has always played a lead, but critical role in Liberia’s peace process particularly over the last two decades, and has given immeasurably support to democratic governance through sustained engagement with all actors and stakeholders in Liberia including NEC.
“NEC extends appreciation to the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia and the ECOWAS Electoral Division for staying the course with NEC and welcomes your intervention to ensure a resounding success of the biometric voter registration in Liberia,” Chairperson Lansanah noted.
The Resident Representative of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia, Ambassador Josephine Nkrumah said the mission was the first of many others to be deployed in Liberia to gather information in preparation for the 2023 Elections.
“As a fact-finding mission, the delegation will listen to comments and suggestions from stakeholders on the 2023 General Elections and how ECOWAS can assist NEC. The mission has had insightful engagements with relevant stakeholders to the elections, including political parties.
She said ECOWAS is assessing what support it can provide during the BVR exercise and general elections.
Ambassador Nkrumah noted that if all stakeholders, including the media, can work together for the successful conduct of the BVR exercise and general elections, it would demonstrate to the rest of the world that Liberia’s democracy is maturely growing, even in the absence of UNMIL.
She admonished the media to be fair in reportage because it must assist NEC in providing adequate and massive civic and voter education.
The mission includes Mr. Francis Oke, head of Elections Assistance of ECOWAS and head of delegation, and Mr. Ebenezer Asiedu, Principal Officer of the Directorate of Political Affairs

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