EU Releases Final Report on 2023 Election Observation, Offering 22 Recommendations

MONROVIA – The European Union (EU) has released its final report on the 2023 Election Observation Mission (EOM) to Liberia, detailing its findings and offering 22 recommendations for improvement in future elections. This report is the culmination of the EU’s efforts to monitor and assess the democratic integrity of the electoral process in Liberia during last year’s General and Presidential Elections.

Presenting the report today, March 5, 2024, the Mission’s Chief Observer Andreas Schieder said the 2023 General Elections was relatively peaceful and commended Liberians for the way in which they conducted themselves during the electoral period.

Mr. Schieder said he acknowledged that the timely concession by the incumbent president after the closely contested elections significantly contributed to the peaceful transfer of power.

As part of the final report, the mission said it identified several issues where improvement must be considered by the Liberian authorities, drawing down to 22 recommendations.

These 22 recommendations, 6 of which are priorities recommendations according to the report, must be given keen attention in order to allow the holding of credible elections in future.

Priority Recommendations
The EU EOM has made 22 recommendations for improving the way elections are conducted in
Liberia. They include six priority recommendations:

  1. Review the legal framework in a holistic manner in order to address loopholes, ambiguous
    and contradictory provisions related to candidate registration, campaign finance,
    submission and adjudication of complaints and appeals for all stages of the electoral
    process to ensure a coherent application and implementation by the NEC election
    magistrates and hearing officers, as well as better understanding by electoral stakeholders.
  2. Provide the NEC with requisite and timely allocated financial resources corresponding to
    its legal and operational responsibilities to ensure its independence and efficiency.
  3. Further decentralise the voter registration process and increase the number of voter
    registration centres to provide appropriate opportunities for voters to participate in
    the electoral process.
  4. Empower the NEC through enhanced resources and capacity to enforce the campaign
    finance regulations to improve the equality, transparency, and accountability of
    the elections.
  5. Adopt temporary special measures (gender quotas) to achieve gender equality in
    the legislature.
  6. In order to adjudicate the election complaints in a more expedient manner as well as
    to increase public confidence in the process, the secondment of court magistrates during
    the electoral period instead of lawyers, to adjudicate complaints at first instance level could
    be considered. Sufficient funding to be provided for the organization of multi-day training
    on electoral dispute resolution for NEC election magistrates and hearing officers

The conclusion in the mission’s final report stated that despite the numerous challenges (including budget constraints), the National Election Commission (NEC) efficiently managed the preparations leading to successful election days. The mission said it observed the largely peaceful and vibrant campaign with political freedoms being respected; saying, the Liberian people demonstrated their commitment to the exercise of democracy and, in general, the election process was positively assessed by the EU observers, the mission’s final report said.

The EU EOM’s final report and recommendations aim to support the observed 2023 general elections in further strengthening Liberia’s democratic institutions and processes. Whether the relevant stakeholders will implement these recommendations remains to be seen, but the report serves as a valuable resource for identifying areas for improvement and promoting democratic best practices in Liberia. By Pewu Y. Sumo/0777131089

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