High-spirited Liberian electorates left their homes as early as 5:00 A.M. to queue at 2080 voting precincts and 5,390 polling places across the country in Tuesday, 10 October Presidential and Representatives Elections to elect a President among 20 presidential candidates, who will succeed outgoing first female President and nobel laureate, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The electorate also voted for 73 members of the House of Representatives.
The exuberant voters in some parts of Montserrado County and the leeward counties took some electoral workers unprepared as they were in queue at various polling places by 8:00 a.m., the official time when polling materials and staffers had not arrived. In some counties, specifically Sinoe County, southeast Liberia, as confirmed by the Chairman of the National Elections Commission Cllr. Jerome Korkoya in a press briefing Tuesday, polling materials arrived as late as 12 p.m. to the frustration of voters.
Reports from Electoral District#5 in Grand Bassa County, say electorate who had turned out to cast their ballots were informed by NEC staffs that their names were not on the voter roll, while in Gbatala, Bong County, an impatiently angry male voter reportedly erected roadblock with burning tires and allegedly smashed a vehicle after his name could not be identified on the voter roll.
In Ganta and other areas in votes-rich Nimba County, heavy downpour and slow-pace service by polling staffers overwhelmed voters with some threatening to leave the queue and return home without casting their ballots. Generally, the elections were conducted across the country without any violence reported in a process that is expected to see a transition of power from one elected President to another in more than seven decades.
In an address to the nation on Monday, 9 October outgoing President Johnson Sirleaf described Tuesday, 10 October as an historic day for the nation, and for the consolidation of Liberia’s young democracy, saying “For the first time in three generations, we will be transferring presidential authority, democratically, and peacefully, from one elected leader to another.”
President Sirleaf, whose Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai, is in the race to succeed her, calls on electorate to vote for the person and persons they believe will make Liberia a better place.
“Finally, my dear Liberians, we all must respect the outcome of the election as declared by the National Electoral Commission. The NEC has established a system that is accountable, transparent and based upon the highest standards available.”
Local and international observers monitor the polls, including observers from the European Union, Carter Center, ECOWAS, the African Union, and National Democratic Institute, among others.
By Jonathan Browne