The Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Liberia, says the United Nations System working closely with Development Partners in Liberia, is committed to supporting the National Elections Commission (NEC) in future elections.
Stephen Rodriques stressed that elections generally are not episodic events, but a process that requires huge investments and laying strong foundations needed to strengthen democracy.
Mr. Rodriques was speaking at a 5-day Lessons Learnt Conference held in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County organized by the NEC and supported by UNDP.
He congratulated the NEC for the conduct of the 2020 Senatorial Elections even in the midst of Covid-19, limited resources and other challenges faced by the Commission, encouraging the NEC to keep doing the job of safeguarding democracy.
The UNDP Liberia Resident Representative urged participants to leave the conference with realistic and actionable recommendations to be implemented.
Rodriques informed the conference that development partners have also held a discussion to review the 2020 elections and discussed areas that require further attention in order to bring the process fully in line with international standards and best practices.
According to him, the UN and partners support measures to enhance women’s participation in elections including as political candidates. They also endorse the need for an enforceable, unambiguous gender quota, and encourage the NEC to continue to work closely with the Ministry of Gender as the lead Ministry on this issue.
“Development Partners believe there is room for Liberia to enhance the effectiveness of elections by considering measures that would decrease electoral costs, which include limiting multiple by-elections, lengthy proceedings for electoral complaints, as well as holding elections in the rainy season,” says Rodriques.
Development partners are also encouraging the NEC to adopt long-term civic and voters’ education and timely and accurate public information efforts which are critical for building trust and confidence in the NEC and the electoral system.
They are also calling for greater inclusion of women, youth, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups, not just in the actual elections, but also in the electoral planning to ensure their needs and concerns are considered.