24 November 2017

Liberia: Partners Form United Front

Liberia seems to be reaping dividends of its allegiance to global bodies and organizations, all of which have raised their voices amid the current electoral standoff. First it was the African Union (AU), ECOWAS and European Union (EU) followed by the United States and others, now is the Security Council of the United Nations, the body of which Liberia is a signatory to the San Francisco Charter that gave birth to it.

In their respective statements, these partners seemed united in applauding the legal process, but did not lose sight of the need for a peaceful and timely transitional process of government. The New Republic flips through the Statement issued Wednesday in New York.

In the time of uncertainty, Liberia's traditional allies and partners are forming united front against attempts to sabotage the country's democratic forward-match which is threatened by electoral dispute arising from the polls of October 10.

Liberty Party and its collaborators are contesting the outcome of the polls on account of alleged frauds and irregularities. The exercise has placed a snag in the holding of the runoff election that was to be held November 7 between the Unity Party and the Coalition for Democratic Change.

Legal process to establish the authenticity of the LP claims is ongoing at the National Election Commission (NEC) in a manner said to be unpleasing to some Liberians and other international bodies.

Days after the African Union, Economic Community of West African States, European Union, the United States and others took positions on the current stalemate, the Security Council of the United Nations has taken similar posture.

Just as the rest of the partners, the Security Council congratulated Liberians and government as well as political leaders, civil society organizations, and the media, for the peaceful conduct of October 10 presidential and House of Representative elections.

In its first statement since the vote on October 10, UNSC took note of the transparency of the electoral process, though some political leaders claimed it was flawed.

UNSC also commended international partners and UNMIL for supporting elections preparation. It also applauded the role of international, regional, and domestic election observation missions for their contributions to the transparency of the electoral process.

Highly battered National Elections Commission is also praised for the "conduct of an expeditious tallying process and timely announcement of results."

The statement also took into consideration the use of established legal mechanisms to address complaints over the conduct of the October 10 election.

As others have done in calling for expeditious adjudication of the legal process, Security Council called on Liberian claimants and institutions to resolve any disputes, including pending litigation, in an appropriate, fair, transparent, and expeditious manner "with a view to permit the timely conclusion of Liberia's electoral process and a peaceful transition of power to a new president in accordance with timelines outlined in Liberia's Constitution."

The United States last week expressed concern over the delay in resolving the dispute from the October 10 polls which it also affirmed was credible, free and transparent.

"The members of the Security Council called upon leaders of all political parties to continue to refrain from incitement of followers toward any violent action," the statement notes.

"The members of the Security Council noted the importance of a credible and peaceful second round presidential election and called upon Liberians to ensure the elections are free, fair, credible, and transparent, including through the full participation of women."

It reiterated that the responsibility for the preparation, security and conduct of free, fair and transparent elections rests with the Liberian authorities.

Most importantly, the body reiterated call for continuous support to the Liberian authorities, including through deployment of international electoral observers, with a view to ensuring the credibility of the second round of elections.

ECOWAS, AU Statement

About a fortnight ago, African Union (AU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) rallied politicians and the electoral body to 'hurry with the issue' which stands between Liberia's progress and regression.

In a joint statement issued at the weekend,. AU's Liaison Office in Liberia (AULOL), Office of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia and UNMIL called for calm, upholding the rule of law, and expeditious adjudication of the on-going election disputes.

"While we support and encourage the due process followed by the aggrieved parties, the NEC and the Supreme Court, and urge all concerned to continue utilizing the established legal mechanisms to achieve resolution, we cannot but express concern over the prospects of a significant delay in bringing the litigations to their closure, thereby thwarting completion of the election process before the constitutionally-mandated date of government transition in January 2018," the three entities stressed.

The groups claimed they are keenly follow developments in Liberia and commend Liberians, and in particular political parties, for their peaceful conduct throughout the electoral process.

"We are aware of the grievances and concerns of some political parties regarding the 10 October elections and their complaints to seek either a rerun, or amends towards improving the National Elections Commission's performance in the areas of concern before holding a run-off election," ECOWAS, AU and UNMIL noted.

"We further note the 6 November 2017 Supreme Court ruling, granting the preventive writ of prohibition until the complaint filed by the petitioners is investigated by the NEC and, if need be, the appropriate appeal process to the Supreme Court is availed of and the matter is decided by the Supreme Court."

Like other entities and organizations that have since been calling for calm, the bodies call on all parties and stakeholders to exercise restraint, uphold the rule of law and conduct all activities with civility and in a non-violent manner, including in their public discourse.

They stated: "We also wish to remind all political parties of their firm commitment to promote a violence-free election, as expressed in their Farmington River Declaration of 4 June 2017, and as reiterated by their various recent public statements."

"The conduct of peaceful, free, fair and transparent elections is a prerequisite for democratic consolidation, sustainable peace and development in Liberia. It is our fervent hope, therefore, that all stakeholders will remain productively committed to a historic and peaceful transition and that the collective will and aspirations of the Liberian people will not be compromised for individual ambitions."

Liberia played pivotal roles in establishing these bodies which have become strong cornerstones in the enhancement of its governance and democratic processes.

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