The ECOWAS Election Observation Mission to Liberia on Wednesday said the country’s general elections held on Tuesday were on the path to being credible.
It said this in its preliminary report presented by its leader and former President of Ghana, John Mahama, at a joint press conference with the African Union (AU) delegation in Monrovia.
Mr. Mahama said although there were isolated cases of violence and late commencement of voting in some parts of the country, the exercise was generally transparent up to the point of vote counting.
“Let me emphasise here. The mission believes thus far, up to this point, that with the environment in the lead up to the election, the voting day activities, sorting and counting of the ballots, Liberia is largely on track to achieve a credible poll.
“This is the meat of my report, and I don’t want to be misreported; thus far, thus far. I am utilising my Kenyan experience; thus far.”
The experience cited by Mr. Mahama bordered on the public criticism he received for rating the last presidential elections in Kenya as credible.
He was one of the observers in that election, which was later nullified by the country’s Supreme Court due to irregularities.
Mr. Mahama commended the National Elections Commission (NEC) for the “professionalism displayed by its leadership and officials in the field, urging it to expedite action on quick release of the results to dowse public anxiety.”
“The mission urges the electoral commission to approach the concluding phases of the process with fairness and transparency until the final proclamation of results.
“It calls on the party leaders and candidates, their followers and the media to maintain the same posture of restraint, serenity and patriotism until the collation has been completed and the announcement of the results made.
“The ECOWAS observation mission urges NEC to expedite action on the proclamation of the results in order to prevent anxiety within the population.’’
The ECOWAS mission team leader also lauded the candidates, their parties and supporters for their “maturity during the campaigning and the voting process”.
He called on all the candidates to put Liberia first by maintaining the prevailing peace in the land, while also urging the candidates to accept the will of the people.
Mr. Mahama emphasised the need for candidates to seek redress only through legal means in the event of genuine grievances.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Erastus Mwencha, who led the AU team, said there was a “lot of convergence” in both reports.
In his remarks, Mr. Mwencha noted that democracy was taking deeper root in Africa judging by the Liberian experience.
“We found there was a lot of convergence, and so don’t expect me to say anything outside what the president has said.
“In fact, I was telling him that I was simply coming to say `ditto’, that is all that I needed to say.
“Having witnessed the election of 2005, the election of 2011, and now that of 2017, we have seen democracy being entrenched and Liberians taking this process as their own.
“The first election was done with a lot on international support, but this election was largely an exercise conducted by the people of Liberia.’’
The Liberian electoral body is expected to release provisional results of the elections on Thursday.