Liberians mobilise for a democratic transition in elections, with scope for legal and procedural improvements
The Chief Observer highlighted: “Our 81 EU election observers reported from over 297 polling places in rural and urban areas in all counties. Liberians turned out in large numbers already early in the morning. The Election day can be described as calm and adequately conducted by the National Electoral Commission. Before that, the election campaign was nearly entirely peaceful.”
Ms. Arena emphasised that overall Liberia´s legal framework is broadly in line with the country´s international and regional treaty obligations. It constitutes an adequate basis for the conduct of democratic elections, albeit room remains for legal and procedural improvements.
Observation of election day showed strong commitment from Liberians to cast their votes. While EU EOM observers assessed the conduct of the voting process as very good, they also noted that voters had to face long waiting time for voting. Undue aggravations in finding their Polling Place ultimately resulted in frustration and tension. Because of insufficient training of polling personnel, late divulgation of polling procedures and inadequate guidelines for queue control, voting procedure was very slow.
While the campaign was calm, the EOM observed use of state resource to the advantage of candidates from the incumbent party and a more general uneven playing field for candidates. Although access to media was granted, there was no free airtime in the state broadcaster. Access to media and possibility to campaign ultimately depended on financial wealth, something that created unequal chances for candidates, and especially female ones.
“It is important to note that the results tabulation is still underway”, said the Chief Observer, adding: “The EU EOM will remain in the field to observe the process, including the handling of complaints and appeals. We anticipate that all parties will remain committed to use existing judicial mechanisms to channel their eventual complaints on the conduct of the elections.”
The EU EOM will present a Final Report with recommendations to the public at a later stage.