Liberia

Carter Center observers arrive in Liberia in advance of October elections

Source
Posted
Originally published
ATLANTA: The Carter Center opened an office today on Mechlin Street in Monrovia to support its ongoing Liberia Election Observation Project, including the deployment of a team of long-term observers throughout the country to monitor electoral conditions in the run-up to the Oct. 11, 2005, presidential and legislative elections.
"In past decades, Liberians have suffered many false starts on the path toward lasting peace and restoration of dignity and prosperity," said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who will co-lead an election-week delegation. "With the full support of the United Nations, ECOWAS, the African Union, and others, Liberians now have their best opportunity to choose their leaders in a democratic way, free from fear and intimidation."

Carter Center international observers will meet regularly with the representatives of the National Elections Commission, the competing political parties, party coalitions, and independent candidates, as well as U.N. officials, domestic observer groups, registered voters, and other stakeholders. The Center will issue periodic public statements detailing its findings and making recommendations, as appropriate. The Center will work in close cooperation with the other domestic and international observer groups.

"By closely monitoring the electoral process, international and domestic observers hope to build public confidence in a credible election process that represents the will of the Liberian people," said Dr. David Carroll, acting director of the Carter Center's Democracy Program.

A Carter Center delegation will visit Liberia in August in advance of the campaign period, and in September, the Center will join a second delegation in partnership with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. During the week of the elections, the Center and NDI will deploy short-term international observers throughout the country. The Center and NDI will remain through the end of November to monitor all post-election developments.

Background:

President Carter's commitment to Liberia extends to 1978, when he visited Liberia as part of the first state visit to sub-Saharan Africa by a sitting U.S. president. Carter Center efforts to promote peace and democracy in Liberia began in 1991, when the warring factions invited the Center to assist in the peace process. (Read more about the Center's work in Liberia.) The Center opened an office in Monrovia in 1992, and President Carter made numerous trips to Liberia and the region in support of regional efforts to end the conflict. The Center also worked to strengthen civil society's efforts to promote justice, human rights, and a free media.

Following the 1996 Abuja II Peace Accords, the Center observed the July 1997 special elections. Many Liberians told observers they saw the election as a choice between Charles Taylor and war, and it is one of Liberia's tragedies that this fragile hope for peace was betrayed. In 2000, the Center closed its office in Monrovia, as President Carter publicly criticized President Taylor for no longer sharing the goals of a democratic society and for inciting conflict in the region

The Carter Center's Liberia Election Observation Project is supported by grants from Development Cooperation Ireland and the United States Agency for International Development.

Since March 2005, The Carter Centre U.K., an independent registered organization in the United Kingdom that closely collaborates with the Atlanta-based Carter Center's peace and health efforts, has been working in partnership with Electoral Reform International Services to implement the European Commission-funded Bilateral Election Programme in Liberia. This separate project provides technical assistance for voter and civic education, domestic election monitoring, and for Liberian political parties in Monrovia and in rural Liberia. The Carter Center is an associate partner of this ERIS and the Carter Centre U.K.-led programme.