By Socrates S. Saywon
MONROVIA- Following an invitation from the National Election Commission of Liberia, The Carter Center will deploy a limited mission of international electoral experts to Liberia to assess the voter registration process and the pre-election environment in advance of general elections anticipated in October 2017.
The delegation, which will be in the country from Feb. 19 through March 2, will visit voter registration centers and meet with election commission officials, political party leaders, members of the Supreme Court and the Liberian National Police, civil society leaders, and international partners to learn about and assess the voter-registration process as well as challenges facing the conduct of the 2017 elections.
The delegation will be led by Jordan Ryan, vice president of the Carter Center’s peace programs. He will be joined by senior electoral expert Carlos Valenzuela, who has served as chief technical advisor for the United Nations in many countries around the world; electoral experts Barbara Smith, who has managed numerous civil society election support projects, and James Lahai, the national coordinator of Sierra Leone’s National Election Watch; and Brett Lacy, associate director of the Carter Center’s Democracy Program.
The Carter Center has observed 103 elections in 39 countries. It conducts election observation in accordance with the Declaration of Principles of International Election Observation and Code of Conduct for International Election Observation adopted at the United Nations in 2005. The Center assesses electoral processes against international standards based on the host country’s international obligations and commitments on democratic elections and its national legal framework. Background: At the end of the war in Liberia in 2003, The Carter Center affirmed its long-standing commitment to the people of Liberia and joined them to help rebuild their country and consolidate the peace.
It observed the 1997, 2005, and 2011 national elections and has implemented innovative programs to support access to justice and access to information, and to address the mental health crisis caused by the conflict. When Liberia’s Ebola epidemic struck in 2014-15, the Center shifted its focus and resources to address the crisis at hand and provide long-term aftercare.
Its current interventions built on years of engagement in Liberia that includes conflict mediation from 1992 through 1997 and multiple programs to strengthen civil society institutions. The Carter Center’s election observation work in Liberia is conducted independently of other programming.