The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in conjunction with the National Elections Commission (NEC) of Liberia organized a BRIDGE Media and Elections workshop from July 08-11, 2013, in Monrovia, Liberia. The workshop was co-funded by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems and the United States Aid for International Development (USAID). This is one of many interventions IFES has embarked on to strengthen NEC by developing the capacity of its staff and strategic stakeholders to ensure effective management and delivery of the electoral process. This particular workshop aimed at strengthening journalists’ capacity in understanding their roles in the electoral process and that of the NEC staff to support the media for effective coverage in the work of the Commission.
IFES’s program in Liberia, “Building Sustainable Elections Management in Liberia” provides elections technical support primarily to the National Elections Commission. This included providing support to the constitutional referendum and general elections held in 2011 as well as the upcoming by-elections and local elections leading to September 2014. Having undergone a busy intensive electoral period in 2012 the NEC seeks to utilize this downtime in the electoral calendar to build the capacity of the institution to efficiently, effectively, impartially, and sustainably manage elections in the coming years. IFES in collaboration with NEC has planned a series of BRIDGE trainings in 2013 including the Media and Elections modular workshop.
Journalists from various media houses in Liberia together with NEC officials attended the workshop. Twenty-one participants shared ideas and explored strategies that would ensure the free flow of information throughout electoral processes all of which are critical elements in maintaining a healthy democracy. Despite the technological developments such as the use of social media, the evolution of information platforms, the role of the mainstream media as a channel for communicating with the masses, has not changed.
Because the media plays such an important role NEC and its international partners deemed it essential to strengthen relations to dispel any antagonistic relations, real or perceived, between Liberian media and the Commission. The exploration of mutual understanding and the realities placed by the demands of the nature of the work performed by journalists and election practitioners, assisted in emerging with strategies that would take the relationship of these strategic partners towards a positive trajectory of enhanced cooperation, understanding and commitment to serving Liberian citizens with excellence.
All the best, to the sweet land of liberty!!