Posted by Daniel D. Boakai, Program Associate, IDA-Liberia
As the presidential and general elections in 2017 are fast approaching, citizens and other stakeholders are beginning to ask fundamental and critical questions about how they can play an active and lead role in the decision making and electoral processes. These elections are being viewed by citizens and international partners as a critical process of our emerging democracy. It is therefore necessary for all Liberians to be adequately informed about their roles and responsibilities, and what to expect from the next leadership. Most especially, on issues that affect ordinary Liberians including; policy and development issues, leadership and representation at all levels and post-election violence. These are critical issues being flagged in ongoing discussions about the 2017 elections.
In order to have citizens deeply informed about the upcoming 2017 elections, a one day town hall meeting was organized by the Initiative for Democratic Alternatives-(IDA-Liberia) in collaboration with the Bassa Women Development Association (BOWADA). It increased participant’s willingness to be fully engaged in ongoing discussions and processes in the build-up to the 2017 elections.
The forum was held on the 24th, September 2016 at the Fair Ground in Buchanan city, Grand Bassa County.
The one day citizen’s engagement forum tagged, ‘Buchanan Community Talk’, aimed at convening CSO actors, local leaders, youth and students to enhance their skills and knowledge on electoral and decision making processes. The forum created space for CSOs to add their voices to topical issues relating to 2017 elections.
At the forum, the Executive Director of BAWODA, Mrs. Martha F. Karngar, stressed the need for woman to actively participate in decision making processes in Liberia. She urged them to opt for leadership roles within their respective communities. She further urged female participants to be actively involved in the coming 2017 elections.
“CSOs are key actors who can contribute to effective governance; and should play a lead role in supporting active citizen’s engagement by supporting and empowering citizens at the local levels”, she added The forum also focused on how to create a community platform for citizens to be able to draw out their priorities and set a collective agenda for better service delivery. The program brought together 32 participants in total with 16 CSOs representatives including youth and women groups from in and around Buchanan city.
Speaking after the training, Michael D. Kpoghomou IDA-Liberia County Coordinator said “CSOs can be stronger if we work together”. He further noted that networks and collaborations can strengthen their work, and set national agenda for making democracy work in Liberia.
Participants left the forum equipped with a better understanding and knowledge to work together and make 2017 elections in Liberia an issue-base one that will reflect the interest of ordinary Liberians. They also agreed that there are numerous challenges to deal with ahead of the upcoming 2017 elections, but with such platforms by IDA and BAWODA, citizens will be able to make the right decisions during and after the election.