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UNDP Official Cautions Journalists –As NEC, UNDP Concludes VRU Media training For December 8 SSE And Referendum

By Bill Weh Pyne
The UNDP Chief Electoral Adviser, Lenka Homolkova has urged journalists covering electoral processes to be cautious in providing information to the public to avoid undermining the electoral process.
She made the statement during a two-day media training for the voter’s roll update on the December 8 special senatorial elections and referendum held in Gbarnga, Bong County; organized by NEC and sponsored by UNDP.
“I will like to say in my statement that this training is for the media because the media’s role is extremely important and we really appreciate the importance of the media,” she stated.
“You have to inform the voters, organize different debates relating to election and share electoral information; but you also have the utmost responsibility to ensure that the information which you are providing is correct, accurate and balance to ensure it does not undermine the electoral process,” the UNDP Chief Electoral Adviser added.
Homolkova then challenged the media by saying she hopes the training will help journalists understand the current process and steps NEC is taking in voters’ roll update that starts today, Friday, September 11and candidate’s nomination to properly inform the public.
Top UNDP Chief Electoral Adviser, Lenka Homolkova speaking to Journalists at the training in Gbarnga, Bong County

She encouraged journalists to help combat misinformation and disinformation which are detrimental to electoral process; defining disinformation as a grave ethical transgression that is committed by someone who deliberately withholds or distorts important information to deceive the public for ulterior motives.
Moreover, the NEC Communication Director, Henry Flomo mentioned during his remarks that the training is envisioned to help the media understand the rudiments, principles as well as the procedures of the voter’s roll concept and also the referendum.
“Without you, we are going to be wasting our time and because if you don’t understand these basic things like the voter’s roll update, you won’t report effectively, and if we can’t reach out to the electorates especially young voters, then we have a problem,” the NEC Communication Director said.
According to him, the training is very cardinal as it is intended to help the media understand the working of the NEC to serve as the bridge between NEC and the voting populace.
Mr. Flomo then applauded the UNDP for underscoring the importance of the training and coming to support it at a very short notice.
Nevertheless, the president of the Press Union of Liberia Charles Coffey after commending NEC for a cordial working relationship said it was expedient for the NEC to come up with such training to aid journalists across the country get a clearer picture of the working of NEC.
“We expect the media to serve the public; in this light if the media lacks the rudiments or understanding of electoral matters it is possible that a conflict may exist,” the PUL president noted.
After extolling journalists for their hard work in previous elections, Mr. Coffey earnestly warned the media to be mindful of politicians who are in the habit of going against societal norms by using invectives, discriminatory statements intended to cause disunity. “Do not give them your platform,” he cautioned.
The UNDP sponsored training which is one of several electoral support projects of the UN organization has given to NEC, brought together many journalists from across the country to be taught how to properly disseminate information.
Other future electoral support projects from UNDP extending to 2023 elections include capacity building for NEC, electoral stakeholders, media practitioners and political parties as well as institution-strengthening.

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