Financial Constraints Affected the NEC’s Ability to carry out its full mandate, EISA Discloses

Monrovia – Despite the peaceful conduct of Liberia’s October 10, 2023, Presidential and Legislative elections, the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) has highlighted several challenges, including insufficient civic voter education. This was attributed to the government’s failure to meet the National Elections Commission’s (NEC) initial budget of USD 91 million.

During a recent press conference, EISA’s Head of Mission, Dr. Nevers Mumba, explained that the Liberian government’s inability to fulfill this budget had a negative impact on effectively informing the electorate about the electoral process, he noted, “The reduction in international financial support for the 2023 elections placed additional pressure on the NEC’s budget requests through the Liberian government. These requests were provided in installments, causing timing issues that affected the NEC’s ability to efficiently plan and execute its electoral schedule. Initially, the government approved a budget of US$53 million for the NEC out of the requested US$91 million, resulting in a financial shortfall that hindered the NEC’s ability to fully carry out its mandate, particularly in civic voter education.”

Prior to the electoral process, the NEC had requested $91 million, but they were allocated only $53 million, as approved by the government. This financial shortfall significantly constrained the Commission, making it impossible to fulfill its entire mandate, particularly in providing civic voter education.

EISA’s Mission acknowledged that the 2023 elections in Liberia were generally positive, but they observed that candidates need to focus more on issue-based campaigning. Their field reports indicated that rallies (56.9%) and music caravans (47.1%) were the most popular forms of campaigning, with door-to-door campaigns (5.9%) and public debates (0.7%) being the least preferred.

EISA commended Liberians for their participation in the elections, the large turnout, and the peaceful manner in which they expressed their choices. They also expressed confidence in the NEC’s staff and their conduct.

Furthermore, Mumba mentioned that EISA had engaged with various stakeholders, including the National Elections Commission, Liberia National Police, Press Union of Liberia, WANEP, Civil Society Organizations, and others to ensure a comprehensive, free, and fair election process in Liberia.

The USAID-funded EISA International Elections Observation Mission (EISA-IEOM) Activity aimed to enhance the integrity of the 2023 Liberia Presidential and Legislative Elections through the deployment of an independent international elections observer mission. This mission monitored, assessed, and reported on all phases of the electoral process in accordance with international and regional standards.

EISA deployed 12 long-term and medium-term observers (Altos) from April 2023 to observe the preliminary stages of the elections. They were later joined by 20 short-term observers (STOs) who arrived on October 5, 2023. In total, 32 international observers from 20 African countries were deployed to 11 of Liberia’s 15 counties. These observers were drawn from election management bodies, civil society organizations, and academia.

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