Washington, DC – IRI today announced it will monitor the October 11, 2005, Liberian presidential and parliamentary elections.  Delegates from the U.S., Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana will monitor voting and initial ballot counting throughout Liberia.  Following the voting, IRI will issue a statement on the preliminary findings of the delegation.

“The presence of IRI’s monitors will help to ensure integrity in Liberia’s electoral process after eight years without elections,” said Lorne Craner, president of IRI.  “IRI’s distinguished delegation brings a wealth of experience to the observation mission. Its findings will provide confidence in the election outcome, and an assessment of Liberia’s electoral needs as they rebuild a democratic government.”

IRI’s delegation will be led by IRI board member Ambassador Richard S. Williamson, former state representative for special political affairs to the United Nations; and Constance Berry Newman, former assistant secretary of state for African affairs.  Other delegates include The Honorable Maimuna Adaji, member of parliament of Nigeria for Kwara State; Donald Bogue, chairman and chief executive officer, Command Audio Corporation; Geoffrey S. Connor, attorney, Jackson Walker, LLP, and founder, Texas Global, LLP; Nicolas Cook, specialist on African affairs, U.S. Congressional Research Service; Eric Dell, chief of staff and counsel, Office of Congressman Joe Wilson (SC-2); Dr. Kwesi Jonah, acting head, Governance Center at the Institute for Economic Affairs in Ghana; Dr. J. Peter Pham, director, William R. Nelson Institute for Public Affairs, James Madison University; Gregory Simpkins, professional staff member, U.S. House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations; Richard J. Wall, managing partner, O’Donnell Waiss, Wall and Meschke; and The Honorable Noah Wekesa, member of parliament of Kenya for Kwanza constituency.

Once in Liberia, delegates will be briefed by Liberian political party representatives, civil society leaders, the Liberian Election Commission, members of Liberia’s transitional government, and local media.  They will also be briefed on the rights and responsibilities of international observers and Liberia election law. Delegates will identify and evaluate strengths and weaknesses in Liberia’s election system, including campaign regulations, the balloting process, vote tabulation and reporting.

IRI staff will also serve as observers and assist in the mission. IRI staff will be led by Judy Van Rest, executive vice president of IRI and Jeffrey Krilla, regional director for IRI’s Africa division.

In May 2004, IRI established an office in Liberia to provide campaign training and resources to political parties to prepare them for the upcoming election.  Earlier this year, IRI fielded a pre-election assessment mission to observe the progress of voter registration and the overall environment for Liberia’s upcoming elections.

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