ECOWAS, AU and UNMIL Worried Over Timeline for Democratic Transition

MONROVIA, Montserrado – The Economic Community of West African States, the African Union, and the United Nations Mission in Liberia have expressed deep concern over the timeline for the country’s democratic transition, amid the current political situation.

Results of the October 10 elections have since been announced, declaring no winner for the presidential race. Senator George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change and Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party won more votes than the rest of the 18 candidates. They were qualified to participate in a runoff election on November 7. The polls, however, did not take place because of a writ of prohibition ordered by the Supreme Court.

Liberty Party, which took a distant third place position in the first round of the elections, petitioned the court for the prohibition.

The party had filed a complaint to the National Elections Commission alleging that the elections were marked by fraud and gross irregularities. The Supreme Court ordered NEC to hold off on a runoff election until it can investigate Liberty Party’s complaint.

In a joint statement on Friday, the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia, the A.U.’s liaison officer, and UNMIL said, while they all support and encourage the channel of due process followed by the aggrieved parties, NEC, and the Supreme Court, they are concerned over the prospects of a significant delay in bringing the litigations to their closure.

While encouraging all concerned to continue utilizing the established legal mechanisms to achieve resolution, they said the situation is thwarting the completion of the electoral process before the end of the constitutional mandate of the current administration in January next year.

“In pursuit of efforts to facilitate a peaceful transition, we reiterate our call on all parties and stakeholders to exercise restraint, uphold the rule of law, and conduct all activities with civility and in a non-violent manner, including in their public discourse,” the statement read.

The organizations also reminded political parties of their commitment to promote a violence-free election, as expressed in their Farmington River Declaration in June.

They emphasized that the conduct of peaceful, free, fair, and transparent elections is a prerequisite for the country’s democratic consolidation, sustainable peace, and development.

“It is our fervent hope, therefore, that all stakeholders will remain productively committed to a historic and peaceful transition and that the collective will and aspirations of the Liberian people will not be compromised for individual ambitions,” they disclosed, adding that, “Allegiance to Liberia must remain the common denominator for sustaining peace and the pursuit of development.”

The three international bodies meanwhile called all parties to the elections to deal with the process in a sincere, responsible, and professional manner, urging them to work vigorously towards an early completion of the on-going legal petitions and motions, to enable its conclusion without undue delay.

They, however, expressed confidence that citizens would continue to remain enthusiastically engaged with the electoral process and strive to deliver a successful example of collective national victory, in the interest of all, including the region and Africa.

“We wish to make it clear that the destiny of Liberia and its peace and development trajectory remain the responsibility of all Liberians, while the international community will continue to facilitate any possible assistance that may be deemed necessary to fast-track the country’s development beyond the elections,” the organizations emphasized.

Gbatemah Senah

Gbatemah is currently a senior student at the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. In 2017, Senah won three Press Union of Liberia awards: Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Land Rights Reporter of the Year.

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