After an agonizing wait, the outcome of the 2017 Presidential elections appears to have been decided with George Weah’s commanding lead in the announced preliminary results of the December 26 runoff election by the Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Jerome Korkoya.
It can be recalled that following the announcement of the results of the October 10 elections in which no party attained the 50 plus one percent thresh-hold, the Liberty Party (LP), the All Liberian Party (ALP), the Alternative National Congress as well as the Unity Party, charging widespread fraud and irregularities, filed a motion to the Supreme
Court to annul the elections results.
The Supreme Court however ruled that the alleged fraud and irregularities were not of sufficient magnitude and scope to warrant an annulment of the results.
It instead ordered the NEC to conduct a runoff based on the attainment of certain benchmarks, foremost amongst which was the cleanup of the Final Registration Roll (FRR) and the public display of the cleaned-up rolls at all polling places around the country before the conduct of the elections.
But the Unity Party in apparent displeasure with the manner in which NEC was conducting the cleanup of the FRR, filed a Bill of Information before the Supreme Court complaining of NEC’s non-adherence to the full implementation of the Court’s mandate for the FRR cleanup.
The Supreme Court however overruled the UP’s contention and instead ordered the runoff to proceed even in the absence of hard evidence corroborating NEC’s claim that the FRR had indeed been cleaned.
The Daily Observer, having followed the matter closely broke the story that the FRR was already on display in Taneniahun, Kolahun District although the NEC chairman had earlier told the Legislature that cleanup was ongoing and that no date had been set for its conclusion.
It is not clear at this point whether these results are going to be challenged by the Unity Party since it had, prior to the runoff filed a Bill of Information before the Supreme Court of Liberia charging that the NEC had failed to adhere to the Court’s mandate ordering a cleanup of the Final Registration Roll.
According to the New Elections Law, the Unity Party has 7 days after the final announcement of results, within which to file legal action before the Supreme Court to have the results annulled or overturned.
There are speculations, however, that given the general anxiety of the public to lay this matter to rest, the UP may drop whatever claims it may have and allow the transition to proceed without let or hindrance. That said, it also remains to be seen whether the UP especially its candidate, Vice President Joseph Boakai, will call Weah within the next few hours to congratulate him or whether he is going to await the outcome of whatever legal pursuits his party may be considering in view of current circumstances.
In a related development, both local and International Observers have given the runoff election a clean bill of health, never mind the fact that the elections were conducted on the basis of a soiled FRR whose mandated cleanup by the Supreme Court had not been fully achieved up to the holding of the runoff.
Meanwhile there have been celebrations across Monrovia and perhaps Liberia over the announced results by the NEC, acknowledging George Weah as winner of the election.
According to observers, expectations, very high especially amongst the youth, are likely to confront the President-elect, similarly compared to that of President Charles Taylor whose lofty and grandiose promises to make Liberia great again slowly fizzled out even before the end of his tenure which was marked by war and instability.
Whether President-elect George Weah will be able to deliver on his promises such as free education and medical care for all, remains to be seen. With an inherited debt burden of close to one billion United States dollars, a critical liquidity crunch, runaway corruption in high places and failed national development policies, there is little doubt that his is an uphill task which will require every sinew of strength, courage and imagination to overcome.
Perhaps one of the most difficult challenges he is likely to face according to diplomatic observers is that of the need to tackle impunity with the implementation of recommendations of the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which may invariably require him to, as it might turn out, to pull the rug under those accused of war crimes like Prince Johnson and others.
From all what it appears, President-elect Weah’s first 100 days in office will provide a picture clear enough to determine whether he is actually fit and proper to stay the course and deliver prosperity to his people.