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GC Urges NEC To Set UP “Situation Rooms,” Enhance Transparency
Date Uploaded: May 09, 2017

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GC Urges NEC To Set UP “Situation Rooms,” Enhance Transparency

By Joseph Toe

MONROVIA, May 8 (LINA) - The Governance Commission (GC) has called on the National Elections Commission (NEC) to establish national and county-based “situation rooms” to monitor, ensure and enhance the highest level of transparency in the 2017 polls.

The “situation rooms” must be headed by individuals and groups known for their integrity, the Commission said in its 2016 Annual Report on Liberia’s electoral system for 2017 released recently.

According to the GC, the NEC must establish a system of structured communication to ensure that monitors, observer groups and situation rooms are formally and officially linked to elections headquarters and to the headquarters of other critical actors such as the relevant security forces and the leading authority of each political party.

The Commission pointed that the NEC shares the responsibility to ensure transparency in the elections with political parties, civil society and the media.

The Commission said transparency of elections is an important factor that contributes to its legitimacy and credibility, adding that “in 2017 the bar for determining transparency has to be higher than normal because the stakes are higher than normal.”

One way to contribute to reducing doubts about the veracity of elections is to enhance transparency by robust investment in election monitoring through the recruitment, training and deployment of a corps of elections monitors.

It added that monitors are supposed to be not only properly trained observers but are authorized to ask questions and seek to ensure that proper procedures as prescribed are followed.

The Commission stated that this requires uncompromisingly that every candidate or party recruits and sends to the NEC an adequate number of party representatives to be trained and deployed for duty by the party during the elections period, covering every polling place where the party is competing.

The Commission observed that political parties have been found to lack capacity and sometimes interest in ensuring a transparent electoral process.

Usually, there are limited party representatives present at polls in Monrovia and select polling places in other parts of the country, the Commission indicated, emphasizing that media presence outside Monrovia is typically scanty, so also is civil society presence at polling places outside of Monrovia.

It added: “The voting, collating and reporting processes can become a bone of contention since verification and observation coverage are usually limited; consequently, claims of unfairness and counter claims arise to cast doubts on the process and results.”

In short, the Elections Commission as a neutral professional body with deep interest and investment in the integrity and credibility of the electoral process must play a more active, catalytic and coordination role in ensuring adequate and responsible representation and coverage of the electoral process, the GC observed.

The Commission noted this must be done by sufficient numbers of well-trained monitors and observers from political parties, civil society and other sectors of Liberian society.

“The Elections Commission must go beyond the usual limited role of training and accreditation of observers and invest more heavily in ensuring the highest level of transparency possible,” the Commission said.



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