MONROVIA – Civil Society organizations in Liberia have called on the National Election Commission (NEC) to enhance efficiency and expediency in counting and reporting/announcing the election results as well as respect the time announced for the commencement of the daily press conference.
In a joint press statement today, the CSOs said the pace of the counting and announcement processes of election results by NEC is very slow, especially for highly accessible areas.
“With increased anxiety and brewing tension among citizens, political parties, and candidates, NEC needs to be more efficient in tallying and announcing final results to calm down nerves. After nearly one week, the tallied votes and results from some counties and districts are still below 60%. This is concerning.” See the full text of the joint statement below:
Exactly one week ago, Liberians turned out massively to elect leaders of their choice, including a president, vice president, 15 senators, and 73 representatives. We applaud the courage and commitment of Liberians to vote and shape the country’s future, despite some of their past and current leaders not doing enough to tangibly transform their lives.
As observed by both local and international observers, overall, the voting process was conducted in a peaceful and free manner. Access to the voting centers and ballot-counting process allowed civil society, the media, representatives of political parties and independent candidates, and international partners to closely observe the process, thus increasing its inclusiveness, transparency, and credibility. The National Elections Commission has been tallying and announcing provisional results from the elections, in largely transparent and open manner. These are notable positive developments and signs of the growth of Liberia’s democracy.
Despite the success of the voting and ongoing announcement of preliminary results, we are concerned about multiple issues associated with the elections.
Firstly, the pace of the counting and announcement processes is very slow, especially for highly accessible areas. With increased anxiety and brewing tension among citizens, political parties, and candidates, NEC needs to be more efficient in tallying and announcing final results to calm down nerves. After nearly one week, the tallied votes and results from some counties and districts are still below 60%. This is concerning. Additionally, it is concerning to observe the confrontational approach taken by NEC Commissioners when interacting with journalists. This adds to the very late start of daily press conference, 5pm instead of the 4:30 pm schedule publicized. Unexplained delays in announcing final results from electoral district 8 in Montserrado County, District 2 in Mary Land County, and District 4 in Grand Bassa County raises concerns.
We acknowledge the 15-day window stipulated in Article 83(c) of the Liberian Constitution; however, we also observe the slow pace with which results are announced, as well as the delay in releasing results from places that are obviously accessible in favor of more remote areas without any reason given by the Commission. The more the results are delayed, with no clear information and explanations, the more people will speculate about alleged wrongdoings or foul play. It is in NEC’s best interest, as well as the integrity of the elections and peace of country, to timely process and announce all results from the elections.
Finally, we have received distressing reports of violence and storming of the tallying centers in Montserrado and Nimba Counties by supporters of some political parties and candidates, especially the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). This is extremely troubling, as it could be interpreted as attempts to manipulate/undermine the integrity, transparency, and independence of the votes counting process. Furthermore, we are deeply concerned about some candidates and political parties declaring themselves as winners, when NEC is the only institution mandated by law to do so. This is a recipe for violence, as it may incite overzealous partisans and supporters to act in ways that jeopardize the peace of the country. Calm and maturity are needed, as we await the final results from the National Elections Commission.
In view of the above, we like to make the following broad and specific recommendations:
- Enhance efficiency and expediency in counting and reporting/announcing the election results as well as respect time announced for commencement of the daily press conference
- Show understanding and empathy when addressing concerns from journalists
- Fully implement guidelines and regulations governing the elections, including but not limited to sanctioning candidates and political parties that will contravene established laws.
- Clearly inform the public about reasons why some districts are yet to be completed, especially in accessible locations.
- Political Parties and Independent Candidates
Respect the electoral rules and guidelines and refrain from individual and collective actions that could undermine the credibility of the elections as well as incite violence and jeopardize the peace of the country.
- Stakeholders and other Civil Society
Continue the engagements with the electoral process, working collaboratively with NEC to ensure a free, transparent and credible process.
As the electoral process is still ongoing, we would like to call on all candidates and political parties as well as the general public to remain calm, peaceful, tolerant, and closely observe the process. We urge individuals and groups with grievances to address them through established mechanisms. The rule of law must prevail at all times in Liberia, especially during these elections. Let’s work to preserve the peace and show to the world that we are capable of managing our electoral and other key processes, with the required levels of inclusiveness, transparency, fairness, and integrity.
Anderson D. Miamen, (Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia)
Naomi Tulay-Solanke, (Community Healthcare Initiative)
Adama Dempster, (Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia)
Atty. Mmonbeydo Joah, (Organization for Women and Children)
Harold Marvin Aidoo, (Integrity Watch Liberia)
Lawrence Yealue, (Accountability Lab Liberia)
Matthias Yeanay, (Institute for Research and Democratic Development)
Joyce Kilikpo, (Public Health Initiative of Liberia)
Miatta Darwolor, (Sisters AID Liberia Inc.)
Esther Davies-Yango, (Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia)
Atty. Facia Harris, (Paramount Young Women Initiative)
Brenda Moore, (Kids Educational Empowerment Program)