Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has reassured visiting delegations of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) and the ECOWAS Commission of her government’s unwavering commitment to delivering credible and peaceful elections in the country next October to end her two-term tenure.
“For us, this election is Liberia’s defining moment,” she told both delegations at the Executive Mansion, Monrovia on Wednesday, 19th July 2017. “It is an important test of our move to political maturity and we are hopeful of a successful and peaceful transition.”
President Johnson-Sirleaf, the immediate past Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, promised that the government would resolve all outstanding issues related to the elections for the country’s parliamentarians and President, such as the passage of the national budget and prompt release of funds to facilitate the electoral process.
She solicited ECOWAS’ continued solidarity and assistance from development partners in support for the consolidation of democracy and good governance in the country, which has witnessed a devastating decade of civil war and the Ebola virus epidemic of 2014.
Speaking on behalf of the delegations, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, President of the ECONEC governing board and Chair of Nigeria’s Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), congratulated the Liberian leader; Africa’s first elected female President, her government and the people of Liberia for their commitment to shaking off the effects of a dark past and marching forward with great determination.
He outlined the concerns raised by some stakeholders around preparations for the October elections and reiterated ECONEC’s pledge to assist in whatever way it could and to also advocate for assistance on behalf of the stakeholders to facilitate the electoral process.
Prof Yakubu mentioned ECONEC’s fruitful engagements with the National Electoral Commission (NEC) of Liberia, the Judiciary, the Inspector-General of Police Gregory Coleman, the leadership of the two-chamber parliament, the Chief Justice and other Justices of the Supreme Court.
Others were Liberia’s former Interim President Prof Amos Sawyer, who now chairs the national Governance Commission, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), foreign envoys and representatives of donor agencies and the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP).
In his introductory remarks, the ECOWAS Special Representative in Liberia, Ambassador Babatunde Ajisomo, had reiterated to the Liberian President, ECOWAS’ continued support to the country, recalling the leading role played by the regional organisation in ending Liberia’s civil war.
The ECOWAS delegation, which is on a fact-finding mission ahead of Liberia’s October vote included Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, former Chair of Ghana’s Electoral Commission, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs Halima Ahmed, the Director of Political Affairs, Dr. Remi Ajibewa, and Head of the ECOWAS Electoral Assistance Division, Mr Francis Oke.
The ECONEC team, which included the Chairpersons of Burkina Faso Electoral Commission Mr. Ahmed Barry and Mrs Maria do Rosaria Goncalves of Cabo Verde, INEC Commissioner Prof Antonia Simbine and staff of the ECONEC Secretariat, flew into Liberia on Sunday after a Needs Assessment and Solidarity mission to Sierra Leone, which is holding its own crucial elections in March 2018.
The missions are consistent with the Network’s objectives of solidarity and mutual assistance, experience sharing, and peer-review, for the promotion of credible and peaceful elections, harmonisation of electoral best practices and the consolidation of democracy and good governance in the ECOWAS region.