Jega, others call for calm, patience in Liberia after election

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By Chimezie Godfrey

Following the recently concluded 2023 general elections in Liberia, the ECOWAS Observation Mission (EOM) has urged all stakeholders to be calm and patiently wait for the official announcement of the results by National Elections Com­mission (NEC)

This is contained in a statement issued on Thursday by the Mission Headed by Professor Attahiru Jega, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Nige­ria.

The ECOWAS Mission revealed that on
4 April 2023, major Presidential candidates signed the Revised Farmington River Declaration, committing themselves, and their political parties, to up­hold peace before, during and after elections.

National growth LS

According to it, the parties also agreed, by this Declaration, to use laid down legal means to seek redress for any electoral dis­putes.

The ECOWAS Mission noted among other things that although campaign events were largely peaceful, some  skirmishes were reported between supporters of the two main political parties, Unity Party and the Coalition for Democratic Change.

The Mission therefore urged all stakeholders to abide by the rules and patiently wait for the declaration of results by the NEC.

It stated,”The ECOWAS Election Observation Mission wishes to appeal to all stakehold­ers, particularly the political parties, candidates and their supporters, as well as the security forces and the general citizenry to remain calm and patiently wait for the official declaration of the results by the National Elections Com­mission, the sole organ mandated to do so under the law.”

The Mission noted the challenges associated with infrastructure and their im­pact on the smooth conduct of the elections.

While the Mission urges the Gov­ernment to put in measures to ameliorate the infrastructure conditions of the country, it also urged the National Parliament and other critical stakeholders to consider the review of the relevant portions of the constitution and the electoral law to allow for national elections to be held on dates during the dry season.

“The Mission notes that the polling process generally proceeded smoothly and in a largely peaceful atmosphere,and eligible voters were able to freely par­ticipate in the process, even though the long queues, congestions at the voting precincts and the slow pace of the process led to some grumbling and agita­tions by voters.

“To address congestion and long queues at polling precincts, reforms may be introduced in the electoral laws to reduce the number of vot­ers per polling unit, taking into cognisance the resource need for such reforms.

“The Mission commends the sense of patriotism exhibited by polling staff, the security forces and the general populace, who collectively played their parts in ensuring a peaceful conduct of the 2023 general elections.

“Similarly,the Mission wishes to remind candidates and political parties on the commitments made within the framework of the Revised Farmington River,” the statement stated.

Recall that in the build up to the 10 October 2023 election, and in furtherance of the pro­visions of Articles 14 to 16 of the Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance (2001), the President of the ECOWAS Commission,His Ex­cellency Dr.Omar Alieu Touray, deployed a 15-member Long Term Observation Team (LTO) from 10 September 2023 to 15 October 2023.

He then de­ployed a Short Term Election Observation Mission (STEOM), comprising 120 observers to Liberia. The Mission was led by Professor Attahiru JEGA, former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Nige­ria.
The Mission was supported by a technical team from the ECOWAS Commis­sion, led by the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Ambas­sador Abdel-Fatau Musah. It was also supported by the Resident Representa­tive of ECOWAS in Liberia, H.E Ambassador Josephine NKrumah.

The ECOWAS EOM was deployed with a mandate to observe the conduct of criti­cal phases before, during and after the elections, with a view to ensuring that the processes are conducted in compliance with extant legal frameworks and international best practices and making critical recommendations for further improvement of the electoral process in Liberia. The EOM also serves as a rapid response mechanism for preventive diplomacy initiatives on challenges emanating from the electoral processes.

The membership of the EOM is drawn from the ECOWAS Parliament, Commu­nity Court of Justice, the ECOWAS Permanent Representatives Committee, the ECOWAS Council of the Wise, Foreign Affairs Ministries and Election Manage­ment Bodies of Member States, as well as Civil Society Organizations and the media.

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