The Foundation for International Dignity (FIND) has called on the international community to invest in Liberia’s 2017 general and presidential elections in order to keep the country’s progress of peace and stability on track.
FIND is one of Liberia’s outstanding pro-democracy organizations, championing the cause for human rights, democratic governance and peace and stability.
Liberians are gearing up for the country’s third democratic election since a back to back 14 years of brutal and destructive civil war ended in 2003, and FIND is alarming that civic and voters education, and other electoral activities, appear to be delayed, and wants the international partners not to turn a blind eye.
The following is a press statement delivered by FIND Executive Roosevelt Woods o October 19, 2016 in Monrovia:
“The Foundation for International Dignity (FIND) is deeply concerned about the delays in the conduct of Civic and Voter Education (CVE) by stakeholders across the country ahead of the 2017 General and Presidential Elections.
Though the National Election Commission (NEC) plans to officially lunch Civic & Voter Education specifically on the voter registration and process in November of 2016, we strongly believe that early civic and voter education of the entire elections and electoral processes is the best way in ensuring a peaceful, orderly and transparent Presidential and Legislative election in 2017.
History has shown beyond all reasonable doubts that late and inadequate voter education, especially in rural areas, has contributed tremendously to the huge number of invalid votes, election violence, low voter registration and turnout, discrepancy in election results, double and under-age voter registration, misuse of state resources, the use of excessive force by state security during election and so on.
We are of the strongest, unquestionable conviction that in order to sufficiently defeat these electoral anomalies which create negative perception, an effective voter education is crucial to ensuring that informed electorate can properly exercise their rights to vote. We also believe that voter education must be undertaken early and strengthened with emphasis on basic information about the whole election, voting procedures as well as the rights and responsibilities of voters in a democratic and civilized society.
For more than one decade since the Liberian people tasted peace and stability following at least 15 brutal years of war and destruction, the international community, working with the government as well as with and through NGOS and civil society organizations have played a significant role in helping Liberians to maintain the peace won. They have helped in providing resources and technical assistance to bolster citizens’ awareness and participatory democracy. This must continue in the pending democratic process which we consider the real turning point and test in Liberia’s post war democratic dispensation.
That’s why, among others, we are therefore calling on the international community, regional bodies as well as international NGOs including the Opens Society for West Africa (OSIWA), EU, the US Government through USAID, NDI, Carter Center, IFES, UNDP, etc to provide technical and financial support to local and national civil society organizations so as to begin early civic and voter education across the country.
We strongly believe that if adequate financial and technical support is given to local and national institutions including ours, the Foundation for International Dignity, there would be drastic reduction in violence during the 2017 elections. Additionally, the electorates on the contrary would be fully informed about their eights and responsibility which overall results would translate into a successful, peaceful, orderly and transparent election come 2017, paving way for a new democratic dispensation in our country.”