As Liberians go to the polls next week to elect a new President, the African Election Project (AEP) is providing leadership in the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for media coverage of the elections.
The presidential election, scheduled for Tuesday, October 11, 2011, would also elect Members of Senate and House of Representatives.
According to AEP director, Jerry Sam, the project has been designed to facilitate the work of journalists and citizen journalists by actively using ICT tools and social media platforms such as twitter, facebook and youtube in disseminating election information and knowledge.
Dubbed “Incidence Monitoring Platform”, a modern fully equipped call centre has been established to enable citizens report election violence incidents in addition to SMS reporting system via short-code.
In a press statement, the AEP director said that in order to co-ordinate information transmission from election observers throughout the country, a group of field officers would be deployed to play this role, using social media tools to reach out to online audience.
Other tools to be deployed include cutting-edge call centre software and a news database software which are designed to keep track of the elections activities as it happens. The project would monitor incidents of violence, irregularities and human rights abuses spanning the period of pre-elections, during elections and post elections, thereby contributing to building peace and entrenching democracy in Liberia.
“This is to help stimulate a vibrant online and offline dialogue between the media and civil society through forums on elections issues with the ultimate objective of promoting free and fair elections in Liberia”, said Sam.
Liberia’s upcoming election has largely been viewed as a test of the willingness of Liberians to fully commit to democracy and the deepening of good governance in the country after the end of a 14-year civil war which ended in 2003.
“The use of ICT during this elections coverage will bring about transparency in the whole electoral process, ensure the timely release of electoral news to citizens residing in Liberia and in the Diaspora, issue alerts to the relevant institutions to prevent potential incidence of violence and to ensure credibility in the final outcome of the elections,” added Sam.
The AEP, established in 2008 to cover elections using ICTs across the continent, has covered elections in Botswana, Namibia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Mozambique, Malawi, Togo and Niger.
The Liberia project, which covered the country’s recent referendum, is being co-ordinated by the International Institute of ICT Journalists (Penplusbytes) with support from Humanity United and working hand in hand with key partners including Ushahidi Liberia and Liberia Media Centre (LMC).