13 October 2011

Liberia: AU Declares Elections Free and Fair

Photo: New Democrat
Opposition leader Winston Tubman casts his vote.

As Liberians anticipate announcement of official provisional results from the presidential and legislative elections held here Tuesday, the African Union Observer Mission to Liberia Wednesday declared the poll as "free, fair, transparent and credible".

The head of the AU Mission, Dr. Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe, told a news conference here yesterday that "after consultations and observations with its observer teams deployed around the country, the mission notes that the electoral process was generally peaceful and held in accordance with the constitution of the Republic of Liberia, and the new elections law of Liberia".

Therefore, the AU mission chief urged all political parties, candidates and other stakeholders "to use the legally established channels or mechanisms to voice any dispute or electoral grievances they may have in relation to the on-going electoral process".

Dr. Kazibwe, who is former Vice President of Uganda, affirmed that the AU mission observed the general elections within the spirit and letter of the Durban Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa, as adopted by the Assembly of the African Union in July 2002.

The AU pointed out that all political parties engaged in peaceful campaigning, while domestic and international observers as well as law enforcement agencies were present at polling centers to ensure security. The mission also stressed the "on-the-spot counting of ballots at the polling centers in an orderly and transparent manner as some factors the mission considered in declaring the process free, fair and transparent."

The mission also noted the opening of polling centers on time, the presence of agents of political parties and independent candidates at polling precincts, no evidence of intimidation or coercion and a massive turnout of voters despite heavy rainfall.

"We are pleased to tell the world that elections in Liberia is free, fair and transparent. Whatever the outcome, the Liberian people have made their choice. At the end of the day, if there is any dispute, it should be validated by the evidence written in the book and signed by all who were represent at various polling stations," Dr. Kazibwe affirmed at the press conference. She congratulated Liberians, political parties and candidates for the "political maturity demonstrated during this electoral process".

Meanwhile, the AU observer mission urged all political parties and their candidates "to accept the outcome of the elections to be announced by the National Elections Commission."

In a related development, the ECOWAS observation mission also congratulated the NEC, security agencies, and all stakeholders involved in the current electoral process for the peaceful and its orderly conduct. The head of the ECOWAS mission, Prof. Attahira Jega, who is hailed for chairing Nigeria's last elections, told a press Wednesday that ECOWAS prayed that the "process would continue without interference so that the will of the Liberian people will prevail".

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