Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Long queues, peaceful elections so far in Liberia

Liberians have been at the polls since 8am today to decide who becomes the next president to succeed the first female African President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who has ruled Liberia for the past 12years

Reports reaching AEP indicate voting is going on peacefully without much incidence in most polling stations across the country. Despite the humid and hot temperature this afternoon, huge turnout has been recorded across the country.
President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was among one of the first to cast her vote in her home county of Bomi. She jokingly told reporters “At least the talk shows will stop” and told reporters she was happy to have finally voted someone to replace her.
This elections has so far witnessed a general atmosphere of excitement among several Liberians especially among the over 100,000 first time voters who are voting primarily for peace and calm.
Philimena Mulbah, AEP field officer reporting from District 10 polling station says though it took her less than a minute to go through the process she had to wait in line for a long while before it got to her turn
“Been in line for 3 hours it’s 90 something degrees and the lines are still long!” she said.

“I really enjoyed voting and the process was so smooth, not too much tension as people have been talking about in past elections. I have voted for Liberia and Liberia is what I want to see move forward,” Gabriel Goah reported.
These are some of the key sentiments being reported from across the country as our reporter Robert Finnan reporting from Grand Bassa County saying the process has been very peaceful however turnout was very high when polls opened. “The voters have been very patient throughout the whole process and everything has been orderly”

Meanwhile AEP field officers in some other selected counties in Liberia report of long queues with priority being given to the aged, nursing mothers and the physically challenged. Braille ballot papers are also available for the visually impaired which has been highly commended by observer missions.
Field officers also reported a few isolated cases of logistical issues as well as voters not finding their names in the voter roll. For instance, in Gardenersville, an elderly woman, Anna was frustrated because her name wasn’t found in the voter roll even though she had her card.

20 Presidential Candidates are contesting the process with the challenge being between the governing Unity Party’s Vice President Joseph Boakai who is reportedly in the frontline with close contender ex-football Star George Weah of the Congress for Democratic Change.

Polls will close at 6pm GMT and the final results is expected to be announce within 48 hours after counting of votes.


AEP

Get the latest news and updates on elections in Africa by Following us on twitter  @africanelection and like the African Elections Project Facebook page

#KenyaElections: Raila Odinga withdraws from October election re-run

Kenya opposition Leader, Mr Odinga has pulled out of the scheduled 26 October 2017 elections rerun saying it would give the Independent Elections and Boundary Commission (IEBC) ample time to introduce reforms that will ensure they deliver a credible elections.

"We have come to the conclusion that there is no intention on the part of the IEBC to undertake any changes to its operations and personnel and all indications are that the election scheduled for 26 October will be worse than the previous one."

Mr. Odinga said it was best he withdrew from the race "considering the interests of the people of Kenya, the region and the world at large"

Mr Odinga further called on citizens to come out in their number and protest on Wednesday, using the slogan "no reform, no elections".


AEP

Get the latest news and updates on elections in Africa by Following us on twitter  @africanelection and like the African Elections Project Facebook page

#LiberiaElections: ECC commends Liberians for a peaceful election

Proceedings so far since the polls opened at 8am have been generally calm and peaceful. Liberia’s Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) in a statement issued during the voting process assured all voters the queue at 6pm when polls close would be allowed to vote.

After receiving reports from 470 out of its 498 rapid response observers deployed, the ECC reported that all sensitive materials (including the ballots, ballot stamp, indelible ink, the Final Registration Roll (FRR), and the Record of the Count Forms) were available at 98% of polling places at the time of opening (8am).

Some polling stations were however inaccessible to the physically challenged or the elderly as observers had to climb stairs to reach there. There were security personnel stationed at most polling stations to help remedy such situations.

As at 8:30am most polling stations had opened however a few opened later at 10am which could translate to the long queues seen at polling stations now.

Generally, reports indicate that the opening process has been peaceful, orderly, and proceeded smoothly across the country. However, there were a few reported isolated issues of concern at certain polling places. These included tensions at polling places where opening was delayed or where a large of number voters are queued, as well as instance where observers were not permitted to observe at the polling place.

The statement further reports of instances in some polling places where voters with valid voters’ cards could not find their names on the voters’ lists.

The ECC urged all Liberians to remain calm and patient as voting continues till 6pm and encouraged political party agents to continue monitoring the process through closing and counting.
AEP will continue to bring you updates on the closing and counting process.
 
AEP

Get the latest news and updates on elections in Africa by Following us on twitter  @africanelection and like the African Elections Project Facebook page

#LiberiaElections: Sole Female Candidate Cautions Against Violence

MacDella Cooper, the only female candidate in Tuesday's presidential election in Liberia, on Monday joined hundreds of peace advocates at a concert for a violence-free poll.

A News Agency of Nigeria team covering the election reports that the concert ended a three-month prayer and fasting camp by women from across the country.


Speaking to NAN, Ms. Cooper stressed the need for all contestants and their supporters to put the interest of the nation above self and respect the outcome of the exercise.

"We are celebrating the sustainability of our peace over the past 12 years, and its continuation for the next 100 years, we hope.

"We had 14 year-long civil war, we sustained 12 years of peace, and in order to develop this nation and build opportunities for our people - the youth, women, fathers, we have to sustain peace.

"So peace is critical to the next phase of our country. It is critical that we go to the polls and vote and leave the polls with peace in mind.

"When the results come out for all the candidates, especially myself, we should have to accept the results, and not use violence as a way of solving our problems, but to get to the legal authorities to dispute any concerns that we may have."

Addressing the gathering, the Chief Imam of Liberia, Ali Krayee, urged the people to put the message of peace into practice before, during and after the elections.

"Today, we all say we want peace, but peace should not be a mere utterance; peace should be what we think, what we love in our hearts, peace should be what we live; peace should be manifested in the way we interact with one another.

"But there can be no genuine peace in our society without righteousness. As long as a society keeps itself distant from God, that society will not know peace.

"So, we ask all of our people to maintain the peace, no matter the circumstances; no matter the cost. We have to do everything that is required to make this nation peaceful."

NAN reports that for the first time in 70 years, Tuesday's elections will see the transfer of power from one democratically elected president to another.

The incumbent President and Nobel Prize winner, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, is stepping down after serving out her constitutional two terms of six years each.

Source: NAN

Sunday, October 8, 2017

ECOWAS & ECONEC gear up for credible #LiberiaElections

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and its Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) have pledged their commitment to peaceful and credible general elections in Liberia, scheduled for 10th October.

Head of the ECOWAS Election Observation Mission to Liberia and former Ghanaian President, Mr. John Mahama and President of the ECONEC governing board, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu made the commitment at a meeting in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital on 6th October.

Leading the 71-member regional observation mission, Mr. Mahama told Prof. Yakubu, who is also Chair of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), that Liberia required all necessary support from ECOWAS and the international community at this critical juncture of its political history.

Mahama, who also led the Commonwealth Observation Mission to Kenya’s polls last August said: “It is the first time that an elected government will be transferring power to another since the country’s devastating civil war that lasted for more than a decade.” The Liberian war ended with the ECOWAS-led international intervention.

He described the recent nullification of Kenya’s presidential election by the country’s Supreme Court as a lesson and useful experience for strengthening evolving electoral systems in Africa, especially with the introduction of technology.

He however warned against the entrenchment of a precedent whereby “elections are now settled by the judiciary, instead of at the polling booths.”

Prof. Yakubu, who led the ECONEC Needs Assessment and Solidarity Missions to Sierra Leone and Liberia last July, noted that the “integrity and moral force,” which the former president and his colleagues brought to electoral processes, facilitated the work of election management bodies on the continent, noting that all the 15 ECOWAS countries are now running democratic governments.

He restated his now familiar phrase that “it is cheaper to deploy ECONEC for credible and peaceful elections than to deploy ECOMOG,” the regional military force after flawed elections.

Specifically on Liberia, the ECONEC boss acknowledged the “huge challenge of delivering electoral logistics to the rural areas of the country during rainy season,” and the impact on the electoral process.

He expressed the hope that Liberia’s stakeholders would take another look at the electoral timetable for easy delivery of materials and reduction of the cost of election in the country.

In a separate meeting with the Chair of Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) in Monrovia on 7th October, Prof Yakubu reiterated ECONEC’s support to Liberia and other network members for the consolidation of democracy in the region.

The ECONEC boss was accompanied to the meetings by a strong INEC election observation team, including two National Commissioners, Prof. Anthonia Okoosi-Simbine and Dr Adekunle Ogunmola among others.

From Liberia, Prof Yakubu will lead an ECONEC delegation to Abidjan for talks on capacity building for Cote d’Ivoire’s elections Commission, at the behest of the Commission.