On 9 September 2020, the National Elections Commission (NEC) launched a regional training for media practitioners on the upcoming voter roll update, civic and voter education, Special Senatorial Election, referendum, and integrity of information. The two-day event, supported by UNDP, commenced in Gbarnga City, Bong county, and will continue in Tubmanburg, Bomi county from the 14 to 15 September 2020. Media representatives from across 15 political sub-divisions of Liberia, both rural and urban communities, participated at the event.
In his introductory remarks, Mr. Charles Coffey, president of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) underscored the need for partnership between NEC and the media during these electoral processes to ensure timely and accurate dissemination of information to the public. The ‘media boss’ also used the occasion to call on political actors and electorate to refrain from the use of invectives and divisive ‘politicking’ during the 2020 elections. He further cautioned media institutions not to avail their platforms for such ‘games’.
UNDP Chief Technical Advisor to the National Elections Commission, Lenka Homolkova, reaffirmed UNDP’s commitment to strengthening capacity of the NEC and electoral stakeholders, including media, and emphasized long-term support to the National Elections Commission. Accurate media reporting is critical to safeguarding integrity of elections. Media should also ensure to provide equitable opportunities to all voters and candidates, notably women, persons with disabilities, and marginalized groups.
The first day of the training then focused on the legal basis for conducting the voter roll update and Referendum, integrity of information, as well as mitigation of misinformation and disinformation, police and media relation, among others.
UNDP is currently launching its new Electoral Support Project to Liberia, that will supersede the Support to 2015 – 2018 Electoral Cycle Project implemented with funding and partnership from the European Union, Sweden, Ireland, Canada, and earlier Germany, and Japan. The new Project, will, among others, focus on strengthening strategic communication of the National Electoral Commissions and electoral stakeholders, including media, and development of platforms to combat misinformation.