President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf recently received a high-powered delegation from the National Democratic Institute (NDI) headed by Ambassador Johnnie Carson, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and member of the Board – NDI.
An Executive Mansion release said the delegation consists of regional and elections experts from Africa and North America, including Ms. Hannah Teethe Kodak, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Ghana, Dr. Tadjoudine Ali Diabacte, former Deputy Director of Electoral Assistance Division, United Nations, Togo, Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh, Regional Director, (Cameroon); NDI, Samantha Smoot, Observation Mission Director, (USA); NDI, and Michael McNulty, Senior Program Manager, NDI (U.A.S.).
Ambassador Johnnie Carson, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and member of the Board, NDI who is also head of the delegation thanked President Sirleaf for the warm reception and audience accorded the delegation since their arrival in Liberia.
He reflected on progress made over the years and informed her the purpose of their visit is to assess the ongoing campaign activities, and as well evaluate the overall political atmosphere and other aspects of the elections preparations aimed at consolidating prospects for peaceful, transparent and credible elections comes October 10th.
Ambassador Carson informed President Sirleaf that they have begun holding talks with various key stakeholders including the Inspector General of the Liberia National Police and described the meeting as successful.
He disclosed that NDI has deployed observers in all 15 counties and will hold discussions with the leadership of the National Elections Commission among others.
He added: “We recognize that this is an important moment for Liberia.”
Ambassador Carson commended President Sirleaf for her leadership in leading the country which he said worth commendation.
Responding, President Sirleaf thanked Ambassador Carson and team for their visit especially at this critical period in Liberia. She described the coming elections as a defining moment for Liberia.
She told the delegation that Liberia has come a long way to consolidate its peace and democracy although there are some challenges especially in the areas of roads, logistics, among others. She said the National Elections Commission is prepared to conduct elections.
The President added that NEC has conducted several other elections, which according to her were credible.
“Campaigns are in heavy gear right now, and as you may recall, Presidential candidates signed on to the Farmington Declaration aimed at ensuring peaceful elections free of violence,” she said.
The Liberian leader informed the NDI delegation about overall atmosphere of the campaign period; stressing enthusiasm by both the candidates and electorates – thus citing respect for each other during political campaigning.
She noted: “One needs to look at this area carefully.” She also informed the delegation that the Supreme Court will not be going for break giving the importance of the October elections.
Madam Sirleaf however expressed the hope that despite the challenges, the campaign is moving progressively in anticipation if free and fair elections that will be accepted by all.