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SIANL Concludes First-Time Voters Symposium

Swedish Ambassador to Liberia, Urban Sjostrom, delivered a compelling message to Liberia’s first-time and young voters on Friday, September 29th, urging them to play a pivotal role in the democratic process by peacefully casting their votes in the upcoming October 10th elections.

Addressing an enthusiastic audience comprising students from high schools and universities, Ambassador Sjostrom emphasized the importance of voting as a fundamental right. He conveyed the message that no one can deprive them of their right to participate in shaping the future of Liberia through the democratic process.

Ambassador Sjostrom, speaking at the culminating event of the Swedish Institute Alumni Network-Liberia (SIANL) First-Time Voters’ Symposium, underlined the significance of Liberia’s elections not only for the nation but for the entire West African region. He stressed that the democratic process in Liberia holds immense importance on a regional and global scale, citing Sweden’s commitment to supporting the country’s democratic journey.

The symposium marked the conclusion of a year-long initiative by SIANL aimed at empowering young voters with the knowledge and motivation required for responsible and peaceful civic engagement. The primary objective was to provide voter education to the youth who will cast their ballots for the first time during the October 2023 election.

Under the theme “Democracy in Action: Shaping the Future and Empowering First-Time Voters to Make Informed Decisions in the October 2023 Elections,” the symposium featured engaging presentations from a panel of distinguished speakers, including Nikolina Stalhand from the Swedish Embassy, Liberian lawyer Sneh Gibson, and SI scholar Elisha Bloe.

Topics ranged from pre-election preparations to Election Day procedures and post-election conduct. The panelists shared personal voting experiences and provided valuable insights on dos and don’ts for Election Day, sparking thoughtful questions from the eager audience of first-time voters.

Proudly sponsored by the Swedish Institute, this final symposium marked the culmination of a series of events held throughout the year. These gatherings served as platforms for SIANL to deepen young individuals’ understanding of the democratic process and encourage active civic participation.

SIANL had previously hosted two symposia for first-time voters in December 2022, bringing together approximately 300 students from at least eight schools. A third symposium convened in May 2023, with an audience of approximately 250 first-time voters. These events laid the foundation for the September 29th climaxing event, which saw the participation of at least 100 eager young voters.

These symposia align with Goal 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a specific emphasis on “Inclusive societies.” SIANL firmly believes that focusing on young individuals, especially school-going first-time voters, is crucial for fostering inclusiveness in Liberia’s democratic process.

Ambassador Sjostrom’s call to action resonated deeply with Liberia’s youth, inspiring them to become active participants in their country’s democratic journey, with the October 10th elections representing a critical milestone in shaping Liberia’s future.

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