Thursday, October 29, 2009

Liberia to get $17.5m for polls

By TAMBA JEAN-MATTHEW NATION Correspondent

DAKAR, Thursday

The USAid has offered Liberia $17.5 million to finance the upcoming elections.

The money will be channelled through the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) as a five-year subsidy.

Among other things, the amount is expected to be used to help organise Liberia’s presidential elections in 2011 and the General Election in 2014.

Addressing a press conference in the Liberian capital, Monrovia, on Wednesday, the USAid director, Ms Carolyn Teddy, explained that the subsidy would help to provide sustainable assistance to the electoral management system in Liberia. This will include demarcation of the electoral boundaries.

In his response, the President of the Liberian Electoral Commission, James Fromoyan, commended USAID and IFES for the decision and assistance already made to support Liberia in holding a free and fair election.

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) is an independent, non-governmental organisation providing professional support to electoral democracy through field work, applied research and advocacy. IFES strives to promote citizen participation, transparency, and accountability in political life and civil society.

Every IFES project is staffed by national and international staff while partnering with local organizations. This home-grown approach ensures that the expertise offered by IFES fits the needs of the country or client and the benefit of assistance outlasts the life of the project.

IFES’ work is nonpartisan and also includes projects that Help citizens participate in their democracies in a bid to increase politicians' accountability to the electorate and strengthen government institutions.

Since its founding in 1987, IFES has worked in more than 100 countries - from developing democracies such as Liberia, to mature democracies such as the US.

During Liberia’s last election in 2005, the US threatened to step down assistance to the country if elections were postponed in the midst of intense political altercation. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf eventually won the ballot in a run-off against her rival the ex-international footballer, George Manneh Weah, both of whom will be contesting the polls again in 2011.

But despite the elections being called fair and orderly, Weah repudiated the result, which gave a majority to Johnson-Sirleaf, and the announcement of Liberia's new president was postponed, pending an investigation

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