Two national agencies are vying for control over Liberia’s biometric ID project ahead of the country’s 2017 election, reports FrontPageAfrica. The National Identification Registry (NIR) was originally established to issue biometric ID cards, but the National Elections Commission (NEC) is now attempting to take over the biometric registration process on its own.
It’s a critical issue in a country that lacks any national ID system enabling authorities to perform criminal background checks, for example; only passports differentiate citizens from non-citizens, FrontPageAfrica says. That’s why the NIR was created, and why its task is considered so important. Speaking to media, NIR Executive Director J. Tiah Nagbe explained that in the near future, the biometric ID cards will be used as official travel documents within the ECOWAS region in addition to being used as voter identification.
It isn’t clear why the NEC is now trying to set up the biometric ID program on its own, but it is worth noting that the agency receives $20 million, while the NIR has a budget of only $550,000. It may be that officials at the NEC feel their organization is simply better equipped for the task. In any case, the country’s President is urging both organizations to work together; and however the biometric ID program is established, it will help Liberia to join a growing cadre of countries embracing biometric citizen ID programs for elections and other civil applications.
June 27, 2016 – by Alex Perala