31 December 2017

Liberia: Observers X-Ray Runoff Election

Both local and international observers including the European Union Elections Observation Mission, the Election Coordinating Committee and the Liberia Elections Observation Network have x-rayed the just ended December 26 presidential runoff election between the Unity Party and the Coalition for Democratic Change.

The EU Election Observation Mission through its Chief Observer, Maria Arena told a press conference in Monrovia that Liberians were resilient throughout the process leading to the presidential election runoff.

The international elections observers say political parties remained committed to the promotion of non-violent elections and the rule of law indispensable to the strengthening of Liberia's democratic institutions despite the uncertainty that resulted from the delaying of the second round initially announced for November 7, 2017.

Madam Arena hailed the National Elections Commission (NEC) for implementing recommendations from different organizations to conduct a peaceful and credible polls conducted December 26, 2017.

The group says its Observers assessed the conduct of the voting process and observed polling stations to be very good. According to local group, LEON, voting has been calm across the country but turnout have been low. Few problems have been reported so far, but it says generally, the Final Registration Roll (FRR) was exhibited at all Precincts in accordance with the Supreme Court ruling which enabled polling staff to process people faster than in the first round.

LEON deployed 1040 observers throughout Liberia for Election Day that were stationed in approximately half of all polling precincts and 20% of polling places. They have been observing opening and voting and will continue to observe until the end of counting.

The group says 97% of polling places observed opened within fifteen minutes of opening time with 3% opening around half an hour late. Late opening was due to polling staff not arriving on time, waiting for party agents or minor unrest, the group adds.

It continues that polling materials arrived late in five polling stations, and that opening procedures were followed correctly in all but one polling place where the staff failed to show that the ballot box was empty before sealing it.

LEON notes that turnout was significantly slower during the morning than for the first round election, as has been reported by the press. Observers have noted that queue control was more effective than in the first round, noting that only 6% reported poor queue control as compared to 26% in the first round which led to fewer tensions in the polling places.

However, some 10% of voters were still reported to have queued at the wrong polling places initially, it concludes.

--Edited By Winston W. Parley


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