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CDA Catherine Rodriguez’s Remarks at the National Conference on Electoral Integrity
Delivered: 09/26/2023
September 27, 2023

(As prepared)

Officials of the Government of Liberia
Political Party Leaders
Representatives from the International Community
Representatives from Civil Society
Distinguished Guests

All Protocols Observed

Good Morning

I am honored to join you today for the National Conference on Electoral Integrity.

As you all know, the eyes of the world are focused on the elections here in Liberia.  It is an opportunity to showcase how they are managed.  This conference on electoral integrity could not be more timely.

And by convening this conference, you are all demonstrating a clear commitment to one of the central tenets of a functioning democracy: free, fair, and peaceful elections!

The Liberian government has done much to resource these elections. We congratulate the NEC for their hard work in preparing for October 10th.  President WEAH has also made a commitment in his recent speech at the UN that Liberia has taken “all necessary steps to hold free, fair, transparent, peaceful, inclusive and credible elections “.

The jangling sound of Democracy in action features a cacophony of voices and ideas, all competing for attention from voters. This is a healthy sign of a vigorous exchange of ideas and a hallmark of a healthy democracy.   Sadly, in elections around the world, some will be tempted to turn to hate speech and advocate for disruptive actions.  These undemocratic voices can be mitigated and muted by citizens who choose not to amplify them through re-postings on social media and other platforms.

The government should also hold accountable those who would attempt to disrupt the election process and continue to invest in the resources, including manpower and money, to keep voters, candidates, and election workers from intimidation or harm.

Political parties and their leaders also have a responsibility to ensure the elections are peaceful and credible.  They can do so by complying with the electoral laws and encouraging their followers to reject violent rhetoric.

The United States, as a longstanding partner of Liberia, is committed to supporting democracy. Through USAID, we are directly supporting both international and domestic election observer missions, along with other international partners as we deploy observation teams throughout the country.

It is important that the NEC gives all election observers unrestricted access to polling stations on election day, as well as access to the vote tallying process.

The government, political parties, and the NEC certainly have crucial roles in ensuring the October elections are successful.  But individual Liberians – like each of you in this room – are essential to electoral fairness and integrity.

I have been inspired by the incredible work that ordinary Liberians are doing to make the elections peaceful and successful.  I am particularly impressed by the actions taken by this nation’s youth.

I spent the International Day of Peace last week with a group of 300 impressive young Liberians who are stepping up as leaders in promoting peace and positive change. One of the organizers of that gathering – the Federation of Liberian Youth – FLY – implemented an extraordinary peace initiative.

FLY brought the youth wings of Liberia’s major political parties together in Nimba County to sign the Butuo Declaration and commit themselves to protecting peace and stability before, during, and after the elections.

Congratulations to FLY and all young Liberians who are being leaders of peace and positive change.

Congratulations also to the leaders of political parties who are here today.  By reaffirming your commitment to the Farmington Declaration, you are sending your followers a clear signal of your dedication to protecting Liberia’s hard-won peace and democratic gains.

The United States looks forward to working alongside all of you to ensure that Liberia remains a beacon of stability and a shining example of democratic self-governance for the rest of Africa and the world.

Thank you!