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Will Liberia Be Ready For October Elections? - 2003-02-25

A delegation of the U.S. based Carter Center is in Liberia to assess conditions for elections in Liberia. Ambassador Gordon Streeb heads the mission. According to Ambassador Streeb, the delegation’s visit to Monrovia followed an invitation from Liberian President Charles Taylor.

He says the mission will assess the chances of whether the Carter Center can support the Liberian electoral process.

He says, “when we received this invitation our response was well, the first thing we need to do is take an assessment on the ground of the situation – trying to ascertain what the government’s intentions are with regard to these elections? What the current state of preparation is for the election? And to also speak with others outside the government – political parties, civil society – so forth in terms of how they were preparing for, and what they were anticipating in these elections?” end act.

Ambassador Streeb says the Carter Center is concerned about the general security situation leading to the October elections in Liberia.

He says, “ From the President himself through the government to the other parties we’ve spoken with here – the international community both here and prior to that – everybody shares the concerns about the security situation, and I think most people feel that – that issue certainly needs to be addressed and resolved before one could really expect to be able to conduct free and transparent elections”. End act.

Ambassador Streeb says he’s encouraged by indications from the government that it’s prepared for elections. But he says the proof would be to create an atmosphere conducive for voter turnout.

The Carter Center closed down its Liberia operations in November of 2000. Ambassador Streeb cited the government’s poor human rights record as one of the factors leading to the closure.

The mission is also expected to meet with representatives of the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy or LURD. That meeting is expected to take place in Guinea.