Statement by Hon. Davidetta Browne Lansanah
National Elections Commission (NEC)
National Stakeholders Conference
Gbarnga, Bong County
August 28, 2020
Distinguished Colleagues of the Board of Commissioners
Heads of District Commissioners
Heads of Chiefs
Heads Women Organizations
Heads of Youth Organizations
Heads of Persons with Disabilities
Distinguish Ladies and Gentlemen:
I bring you greetings and best wishes on behalf of the Board of Commissioners and the entire family of the National Elections Commission of Liberia (NEC). As we gather here for this National Stakeholders Conference to talk about the electoral activities/events as they unfold in our Country, the NEC is pleased to acknowledge that our leaders across the country have been following the work of the NEC in executing its activities leading to the 2020 Voter Roll update, Special Senatorial Election and the National Referendum with interest. We are also particularly glad that almost all of our invited leaders across the country are here today to interact with us in understanding the processes so as to enable them assist the Commission in promoting popular and informed participation in the upcoming electoral activities.
It is common knowledge that the cream for maintenance of any democratic state is regular elections. Election therefore serves as a catalyst for peace and stability for any democratic society. For a nation to remain peaceful and stable, its people must be well-informed and prepared for participation in the processes for its conduct on basis of free, fair, credible and transparent principles. Our gathering here today, is therefore, in this direction of beginning this huge task of informing and educating our people on what is expected.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in this regard, I wish to inform you that by the mandate of the Constitution of Liberia with reference to Article 46, and a Joint Resolution of the National Legislature, the Commission will be conducting the Special Senatorial Election and National Referendum on December 8, 2020. Not only that, probably, there maybe be additional two By-Elections added, as occasion by the death of Honorables Nagbe Sloh and Monnah Youngblood, depending on when the notification(s) will arrive. These elections cannot be conducted using the current Voter Registration Roll without the inclusion of those who have turned eighteen years or above - (First Time Voters), besides, there are also others who could not be allowed to vote in past election(s) due to missing particulars and as well as those who have lost or damaged their cards and need to be replaced. Also opportunity will be given to those who have changed locations and need to update their information.
These tasks as enumerated will not be easily attainable without your full participation and assistance in getting them done. Imagine for example, about 500 or more Voter Roll Update Teams moving across the country with three days interval, from Voter Registration center to Voter Registration Center, covering more than 2000 Centers without the dissemination of the required information on their movements and work. Without your involvement, the challenges will be enormous and difficult in achieving the goal.
It is therefore part of our cardinal responsibilities to ensure that our citizens have an enlightened understanding of the electoral process at every stage. They must have equal opportunity to discover and validate the choices that would best serve their interests. In a democracy, citizens should be prepared to take control of the electoral agenda to ensure ownership and sustainability. This is necessary because during elections, there are usually too many competing promises and confusing manifestos, and only an informed electorate will take charge and control the agenda. As you are aware, election being the central act of democracy needs to be checked, monitored, guided, and promoted by all category of stakeholders. In this regard, the NEC sees you as a key conduit through which Liberians can be mobilized and educated about elections and the electoral processes including citizens civic responsibilities.
Meanwhile, let me use this occasion to extend the Commission’s thanks and appreciation once again to you dedicated executives and staff of the NEC as well as the Government of Liberia for and our international technical partners for the initial support and commitment to see democracy flourish in Liberia.
Finally, as we deliberate for the next two days, let us make the best use of this time to think strategically considering first and foremost the interest of Liberia and help proffer recommendations that will help strengthen the capacity of the NEC as a professional institution that is tasked with the responsibility of providing the space for regular, peaceful democratic elections in Liberia.
Thank you for coming and I now declare this National Stakeholders Conference formally opened.