Two new studies say countries recovering from conflict can benefit when political finance regulations are introduced early. These include public disclosure of the financial accounts of both political parties and their candidates in emerging democracies. The studies have been released by the International Foundation for Elections Systems or IFES.
Marcin Walecki is the organization’s senior political finance adviser. From the Liberian capital, Monrovia, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about introducing financial regulations during the rebuilding process.
“In every system, someone has to pay for elections. Some has to pay for campaigning. And political parties have to pay for their operations. And one of the major concerns for new democracies is to make sure the money is coming from desirable sources. That you don’t have funding coming from organized crime groups, from terrorist organizations, from former autocrats and totalitarian leaders, from war criminals. And that is one of the major challenges for Liberia. To make sure that the process is transparent and the funding, which is behind some of the parties, some of the candidates, will actually contribute to the process rather than preventing Liberia from free and fair elections,” he says.
IFES has proposed some minimal steps that countries like Liberia need to take to prevent criminal or terrorist infiltration of political parties. Walecki says, “The first and the most important step is to groom a public consensus around all the major stakeholders, in this case political parties, candidates, but also voters to make sure that candidates who are using those illegal sources, candidates who are supported by those groups, are not tolerated. Liberian elections were the first elections in West Africa where we could see, for example, candidates disclosing all their assets…furthermore, major political parties and candidates had to submit financial reports before the elections and immediately after the elections.”
To ensure transparency in the long term, he says, “Many transition countries, in the very early stage, there’s a dominant feeling that you try to get rich as soon as you can…and make sure that they don’t catch you…now it’s a question of introducing an anti-corruption commission making sure that this new program for financial discipline is implemented.”
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