MONROVIA – The European Union (EU) through its Election Observation Mission Liberia 2023 EU EOM has declared Liberia’s just-ended presidential and legislative elections transparent and well-handled.
Liberians on 10 October turned out in masse and voted massively in the country’s general elections credited to have been largely peaceful.
At a press conference on Thursday in the capital, Monrovia, the Chief Observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission and Member of the European Parliament, Mr. Andreas Schieder, stated that despite what he described as an atmosphere of mistrust towards institutions, last Tuesday’s elections were transparent and well-handled on Election Day, with a remarkable voter turnout.
He observed that Liberian voters demonstrated commitment to the democratic process by participating in great numbers in the 10 October elections, noting that the technical preparations and running of the Election Day were well administered.
He disclosed that 100 EU election observers reported from over 417 polling places both in rural and urban areas in 14 out of Liberia’s 15 political sub-divisions, indicating that polling day was calm and well conducted nationwide by the National Elections Commission (NEC) and staff of the Commission nationwide.
“Observation of Election Day showed Liberians’ democratic commitment and was positively assessed by the EU EOM observers,” he added, indicating that voters had to face long waiting time for voting.
He graded the conduct of political campaigns for the elections as being largely peaceful and vibrant, indicating that journalists were free to cover all sides of the campaigns.
Howbeit, he stated that campaign freedoms were mostly respected in terms of freedom of assembly, of speech, of opinion and of media despite some minor incidents, indicating that “Unfortunately, the campaign was also characterized by a high level of monetization and bartering.”
“The respect of campaign finance regulations by contestants is limited, and there is no enforcement of the regulations by NEC,” he stated.
However, Mr. Schieder noted that the high turnout and what he termed as the cumbersome procedures and the implementation of such procedures slowed the conduct of polls.
He pointed out that the use of government platforms and state-owned resources constituted an advantage to the incumbency, stating that overall, Liberia´s legal framework provides a reasonable basis for the conduct of democratic elections; however, it does not fully guarantee voters’ right to an effective legal remedy.
For his part, Head of Delegation of Members of European Parliament, Leopoldo Lopez Gil, added that on behalf of himself and his parliamentarian colleagues that as democratically elected politicians, he was urging all Liberian political leaders to accept the outcome of Tuesday’s elections and peacefully address any disputes through the courts.
Meanwhile, Mr. Schieder intoned that it was also important to note that while the just-ended elections results tabulation is still underway, the EU EOM will remain in the field to observe the process, including the handling of complaints and appeals.