Precisely 15 days following the October 10, 2017 Presidential and Representatives Elections and five days after the announcement of final results, the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) releases a statement here on the polls, calling on the National Elections Commission or NEC to expeditiously investigate all complaints of election irregularities brought before it by aggrieved parties.
The Council also calls on the Commission to put in place proper mechanism to avoid a repeat of those discrepancies that happened during the 10 October polls in the November 7 runoff. The Coalition for Democratic Change of Senator George Manneh Weah which receives 38 percent of the votes and the governing Unity Party of Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai with 29 percent of the total votes cast in the first round of polling, are in the faceoff for next month.
In a five-count findings captioned, “Unappreciable Findings” the LCC notes among others that during the polls, voters encountered extreme difficulties in identifying the right queue at the polling centers thereby resulting to over crowdedness and confusion at voting places. It says there were difficulties in identifying voters’ names in the roster, which sometimes took longer times.
It also rates polling places preparations as not pleasing, including ineffective control of queues by NEC staffs, while citing reports of alleged fraud and discrepancies in at least three polling centers.
The statement signed by the LCC President, Bishop Jonathan B.B. Hart says the Council deployed 415 local observers in 10 counties to monitor the polls, including Bomi, Bong, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Lofa, Margibi, Maryland, Montserrado, Nimba, River Cess and River Gee, respectively.
“Additionally, the LCC deployed 15 Heads of its member Churches and ecumenical and other partners including the Life Center Church, the New African Research and Development Agency (NARDA) as well as the Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Program (THRP) of the Lutheran Church in Liberia and the Ecomenical Women Organization to also observe and validate the outcome of the electoral process”, the statement reads.
However, it reports five-count Appreciable Findings, noting that election staffs including political parties and independent candidates observers were on time at most polling places, including at least 70 to 75 percent observers of political parties and independent candidates. It acknowledges notable presence of the National Security apparatus, including the Liberia National Police and the Liberia Immigration Service, and that voters’ turnout was high and enthusiastic as well as high presence of both national and international observers, including the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC), ESOWAS, AU, EU, NDI and the Carter Center, among others.
“The Council keenly notes the important role the Media played before and during the elections, but admonishes the Media to remain vigilant, unbiased and objective in their reportage”, the LCC concludes.
-Story by Jonathan Browne