Concerns raised over biometric voter registration delays ahead of Liberia elections
Some civil society actors as well as political party officials in Liberia have expressed worries over a number of issues surrounding the biometric voter registration exercise in the country ahead of general elections slated for 10 October 2023.
The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) – a domestic election observer network – in a recent consultation meeting with other stakeholders warned that the current trend of events, such as the postponement of the voter registration drive as well as a population census to determine constituency sizes, could hamper the smooth conduct of the elections, reports Daily Observer.
Speaking on behalf of the ECC, board member Malcolm Joseph said questions around some of the issues, such as the recent biometric voter registration contract and its capacity to help the National Elections Commission (NEC) to conduct free and fair elections, must be answered.
Joseph said while the postponement of the biometric voter registration exercise violates Article 80 of the Liberian constitution, the “persistent challenge of conducting both the census and voter registration, combined with inadequate time allotted for the commencement of civic voter education on the transition to biometric voter registration overall, serve as a risk to the quality of the electoral process and the integrity of its outcome.”
The ECC says the recent meeting was for the stakeholders to brainstorm and make recommendations aimed at better handling some of the challenges already identified.
In a similar posture, Liberia’s Unity Party (UP) officials say they are not happy with the NEC over the manner in which it is handling election-related matters such as the recent biometric voter registration equipment contract, which stirred a string of controversy.
Laxton Group was finally cleared to be awarded the contract after the NEC secured a ‘no objection’ response from the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC).
Addressing the concerns on behalf of the party, the Secretary General Amos Tweh said they are worried that the NEC is unclear on when the biometric voter equipment will be in the country for voter registration to begin, writes Daily Observer in different report.
Delays in the availability of the biometric voter equipment mean that the initial plan by the NEC to commence the registration process from this 15 December no longer holds.
The NEC says it will publish an updated calendar of activities for the electoral process.
Everything is in control, NEC assures
Amid the concerns from different quarters, the NEC has nonetheless assured political party representatives that everything thing is being done to ensure free, fair and credible elections come 2023.
In an Inter-Party Consultative Committee meeting, the NEC chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah updated politicians about what the election management body has been doing, including details of the biometric voter registration equipment contract, in order to conduct successful elections, according to Front Page Africa.
Concerning the biometric voter registration process, Browne Lansanah said officials of the NEC and contractor Laxton Group have been holding a series of technical consultation meetings on how the exercise can be properly conducted.