ECOWAS Observers return to Liberia for December 26 Presidential Run-off

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A 25-MEMBER ECOWAS Short-Term Observation Mission headed by Ghana’s immediate past President John Dramani Mahama will return to Liberia for the country’s delayed presidential run-off now scheduled for 26 December 2017.

The Ghanaian Statesman had led a 71-member combined team of ECOWAS Long-Term and Short-Term Observers for the 10th October presidential and legislative first round elections, which were inconclusive, producing two front-runners – former World footballer George Weah of the Coalition Democratic Congress (CDC), and out-going Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP).

The run-off was to have taken place on 7thNovember, but was delayed because of the petition filed by one of the losing parties, the Liberty Party (LP), which claimed there were irregularities and fraud in the first round balloting. The case was escalated to the Supreme Court, which ordered the National Elections Commission (NEC), Liberia, to address the complaints by the LP.

NEC heard and dismissed the petition as lacking in merits, but the LP again went to the Supreme Court, which upheld the NEC decision, and further directed the Commission to undertake some remedialactions, particularly cleaning up the Voter’s Register and avoiding identified lapses in the 10th October vote.

But still unsatisfied with the situation, the ruling United Party (UP) took the matter to the Supreme Court, with the apex Court giving its final ruling on 21st December that the presidential run-off should go ahead.

ECOWAS played a critical role in the resolution of the politico-legal dispute through the tireless efforts of its Special Representative in Liberia Ambassador Babatunde Ajisomo, who coordinated an ECOWAS Technical Team, which has continued to provide support to NEC to ensure that the presidential run-off passes off seamlessly.

The 25 ECOWAS Short-Term Observers, including secretariat staff of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC), will be deployed to Liberia’s administrative Counties to follow the electoral process before, during the Election Day, and the post-election period.

In its Preliminary Declaration on the 10thOctober elections, the Mahama-led ECOWAS Observation Mission had noted that “…with the environment in the lead up to the elections, voting day activities, sorting and counting of the ballots, Liberia is on track to achieve a credible poll.”

Twenty candidates – 17 sponsored by political parties including the only female, and three independent flag bearers, participated in the presidential contest, while more than 980 candidates vied for the 73 parliamentary seats at stake.

The presidential race has now been narrowed to two candidates to replace out-going President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, a Nobel Laureate and Africa’s first democratically elected female president. Her constitutionally allowed two-terms end by 16 January 2018.

Liberia, which has endured more than a decade of a devastating civil war, has an estimated population of 4.5 million with2.18 million registered voters and the first round balloting were held in 2,080 Polling Precincts (Centres) with 5,390 Polling Places (Stations) nationwide.

– Dec. 24, 2017 @ 3:39 GMT /

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