IRI Pre-Election Observation Mission Finds Process in Liberia to be Credible

Monrovia, Liberia – IRI today concluded its re-election observation mission.  The mission team found the process to be credible, although further improvements will only strengthen the elections.  The delegation, led by Ambassador Robert Gribbin, arrived in Liberia on May 15 and conducted a six-day mission to assess the progress of voter registration and overall environment for Liberia’s upcoming presidential and legislative elections, scheduled for October 11, 2005.

The mission team found the registration process has been greatly improved since the 1997 election. Improvements have been made in the number of Liberians registered and the transparency and openness of the process.  Additional registration reviews are in place to ensure more accurate voter roles and civil society organizations are able to take a more active role in the process.  The team did see the need for increased civic education between now and the October elections.

The delegation commenced its mission in Monrovia, meeting with the Honorable Vice Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia, the Acting Speaker of the National Transitional Legislative Assembly, National Elections Commissioners, the United Nations Mission in Liberia, political party representatives, nongovernmental organization representatives, diplomats and others.  The team traveled to Nimba, Bong, Grand Bassa, Cape Mount and Bomi counties, visiting approximately two dozen registration centers.  The list of registration centers selected – though not exhaustive – included those located in towns, rural areas and camps for Internally Displaced Persons, and static as well as mobile registration centers.

The IRI team assessed the voter registration process, political climate, and civil society activity related to the elections and will address invited members of the Liberian press to discuss preliminary findings.  IRI will release a report detailing its findings and recommendations.

Members of the observation team included Ambassador Robert Gribbin, former Texas Secretary of State Geoffrey S. Connor, regional elections expert Dr. Kwesi Jonah, IRI program officer Amelia May, National Democratic Institute representative Dr. Keith Jennings, and The Carter Center’s senior program associate Ashley Barr.

This pre-election assessment mission is the first of three missions focusing on Liberia’s October national elections.  The National Democratic Institute will lead an assessment during the campaign period. A third mission will monitor activities during the week of the elections.  This mission was made possible through the U.S. Agency for International Development.

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