-EU EOM admonishes political parties
By Jerromie S. Walters
In a press conference held Thursday , November 16, 2023, in Monrovia to presented the second Preliminary Statement of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM), Deputy Chief Observer Jarek Domański, highlighted that the recent elecion was calm and acknowledged that they noticed organizational improvements of the process since the first round,but warned against the pronouncement of unofficial results.
Since the climax of the November 14, 2023, runoff election, supporters of both the opposition Unity Party and the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), have been involved in early celebration, this- they say is backed by results from their respective war-rooms.
On 14 November, Liberians voted in the run -off to elect their president for the next six years. The National Elections Commission demonstrated its capacity to conduct the first fully Liberian-owned elections since the departure of UNMIL.
“I appeal to both candidates and their supporters to show restraint and wait patiently for the announcement of the results. Should anyone wish to dispute them, they should do s0 peacefully, according to the established legal procedures”, said the Head of the Delegation of the European Parliament, Mr Leopoldo López Gil.”
During the news conference, Mr Domański underlined that “Our 85 election observers reported from 326 poling places in rural and urban areas in all 15 counties and 63 out of 73 districts. EU EOM observers assessed the conduct of the voting process and observed polling stations as very good.”
“Procedural irregularities were reduced in the run-off also thanks to a refresher training programme for the polling personnel organized by the National Elections Commission. The 20-days run-off campaiqn was largely peaceful and quiet as both candidates focused mostly on announcing endorsements from first round unsuccessful presidential and legislative candidates. As in the first round, it was a personality-driven campaign with a notable lack of issue-based activities or debates.”
The EU says freedom of the press and of opinion continued to be respected during the run-off campaign period but state-owned media continued to offer most of their news coverage to the incumbent Closer to the run-off date, derogatory speech, inflammatory language and misleading content intensified in social media. “While political freedoms of candidates and supporters were largely respected, the use of state resources by the ruling party continued to distort the level playing field.”
Moreover- they stressed that a significant number of citizen and international observers continued their activities in between the rounds and on run-off election day, contributing to the transparency of the process. “The EU EOM values the contribution from al stakeholders involved in the election process”, stated the Deputy Chief Observer.
The EU EOM has assured that it will present a Final Report with recommendations to the Liberian authorities and public opinion at a later stage. The EU EỎM was invited by the Liberian authorities to observe the 2023 General Elections and has been present in Liberia since 27 Auqust. In total, the EU EOM deployed 85 observers from all 27 EU Member States, Canada and Norway, across the country to assess the
whole electoral process against international obligations and commitments for democratic elections as well as the laws of Litberia. A delegation of the European Parliament, headed by Leopoldo López Gil, MEP, also joined the mission.
Far from what many saw during the presidential and legislative elections on October 10, 2023, the November 14, 2023, runoff election displayed a low voter turnout during the initial phase, in several counties cross Liberia.
Reports from Montserrrado, Nimba, Lofa, Bong, Bomi, Geand Bassa, River Gee, Maryland, Lofa and a scores of other counties throughout the process, showed a very low turnout of electorate. Like several other counties, the euphoria at the Jawoe Manalah Public School in Gboata, Bong County, revealed a scene of less than two dozens of electorates.Moreover, this is similar to the scene from a precinct at the Cuttington University campus in Bong County.
In Margibi, voters attendance in the round off election in District# 4 Margibi County, at St. Augustine Episcopal Mission High School at polling place 1, and 2 was very poor. Also, it was similar situation at the EJ Yancy Annex, District #3, Margibi County and several other seats in the county.
The turnout of voters during a runoff election is crucial for the democratic process and the legitimacy of the final outcome. However, it was observed that the number of voters that participated in the recentelection was significantly lower than expected.
Scores of citizens we spoke with say several factors could potentially contribute to this low turnout, including- voters trucking, and reluctance of voters because they believe the process isn’t tense like the previous elections.
The National Elections Commission (NEC) of Liberia released the final results from the recently concluded October 10, 2023, legislative and presidential elections, setting the stage for a runoff scheduled for November 14, 2023.
The NEC declared that after a thorough and transparent electoral process, no candidate secured the 50% +1 vote majority to claim an outright victory. “With the results of the 10 October polls showing that no presidential ticket obtained 50% of the votes, a runoff elections is hereby declared to be held on Tuesday, 14 November between the two tickets that obtained the highest votes of the CDC and UP,” the NEC boss revealed.