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Liberia Prepares for Election Despite Challenges

Despite the challenges of bad roads in some parts of Liberia, the country is starting voter registration ahead of the October 2011 election.

On January 10, Liberians will begin to register to vote in their October 2011 presidential election.

Difficulties in registering voters living in neighboring Guinea and Ivory Coast contributed to election problems in both countries. Liberia is determined to ensure that its voter registration proceeds smoothly.

Despite the challenges of bad roads in some parts of the country, voter registration centers will open their doors on January 10.

Due to prolonged rains, there were initial fears that registration materials might not reach the most inaccessible parts of the country.

J. Nathanial Dewar is one of those who will be registering to vote.

"Looking at our roads - Gbarpolu, Grand Kru, even River Gee - these are counties that have very bad roads," said Dewar. "So I think there's a need that they reach the towns so that everybody will be reached, because this election is very critical."

He said he hopes that international organizations will assist in moving registration materials throughout the country.

"With the help of some international partners like the United Nations Mission in Liberia, I think it is now time for UNMIL to come out to help in airlifting materials that are needed for carrying out the messages to our rural counties like our villages, our clans and districts," he said.

Some 2.1 million Liberians are due to register to vote between January 10 and February 6.

Rosalyn Kowo, the director of the Civic and Voter Education Center, said the government is working hard to ensure that the registration centers are able to begin their work on January 10, even in the most remote areas.

Technical assistance is being provided to the National Elections Commission by the U.N. Mission to Liberia.

"We do recognize those challenges," said Kowo. "We will be having assistance from the government and international partners to do everything possible for us to reach our eligible voters in the rural areas. So, logistically, we are preparing for that."

She said the registration centers will be staffed by people recruited locally.

"We will be taking even our temporary staff and will be recruiting them from whatever village or town that they come from so that the eligible voters will be reached and the messages will be disseminated properly," she said.

She said that every effort is being made to ensure that all eligible Liberians - in cities, towns and villages - will be able to take part in the upcoming election.