The only woman on Liberia's seven member electoral commission says opposition parties must do more to prove they are ready to take part in the October general elections.
Mary Brownell, President of the Liberian Women Initiative, is one of two new members nominated to the expanded Liberian Electoral Commission. Her name was among dozens recommended to President Charles Taylor by opposition political parties in the country.
Mrs. Brownell says her nomination did not come as a surprise.
She says, “Knowing my ability, and the role I have played in Liberia over the years, especially during the Liberian crisis and even since the end of the war 1997, the role my organization – Liberian Women Initiative has played to maintain the semblance of peace that we fought hard for by conducting workshops on peace-building and reconciliation. -So it was not really surprising to me. If we weigh the merits and demerits, I believe that I deserved it”.
According to Mrs. Brownell, she goes to the Liberian electoral commission with an open mind, declaring that "I’ll please my God and my conscience."
She says, "Once my conscience is clear that I've done my best, I don’t care what the average man will say because they will still criticize”.
Mrs. Brownell expresses optimism that she along with other members of the Commission will work to uphold its credibility.
She says opposition political parties need to do more to demonstrate their readiness to challenge the ruling party of President Charles Taylor in the October elections.
A Member of Parliament and Chairman of the opposition All Liberian Coalition Party, David Kortie, says some parties are not ready.
He says, “You find parties since 1997 that have never made any efforts towards this 2003 elections. Some do not even have headquarters. Now what can parties like that do? I believe that immediately after the 1997 elections parties needed to work even more – a little harder, so that come 2003, they could have a better position."
Representative Kortie, however, claims his All Liberian Coalition Party is prepared to put up a fight in the October elections.
He says, “We have sub-headquarters in all of the counties, we’ve been talking to our people, we're only waiting for the campaign time so that we can only reinforce our efforts”.
The Liberian Electoral Commission has set June this year for the official kick-off of campaigning.