The European Union (EU) has described as “professional” the level of maturity Liberians exhibited during the conduct of the 2017 presidential and legislative elections as well as the December 26 runoff.
Even though authorities of the National Elections Commission (NEC) faced legal challenges for fraud and irregularities, and were ordered to clean up the Final Registration Roll (FRR), the EU in its congratulatory message to President-elect George Weah noted that “the professionalism of Liberian institutions, including the NEC and the Liberia National Police, was key.”
Unlike past elections in 2005 and 2011 that were characterized by disenchantment and violence in some instances, the EU said in the 2017 elections, “all political leaders showed responsibility in accepting swiftly the outcome of the elections.”
Also contrary to the 2005 and 2011 elections, the 2017 presidential election result was challenged by Liberty Party candidate Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine in the Supreme Court; the first civil approach ever in Liberia’s election history.
The first round of the election attracted huge voters who turned out in numbers to cast their ballots.
The huge turnout was blamed on the extension of ballot casting beyond the 6 p.m. closing time. Also, in some parts of the country, including Nimba County, heavy downpour of rain didn’t deter voters, who persistently stood in line to ensure that they cast their votes.
The EU through its spokesperson, Catherine Ray, emphasized that: “The high and peaceful participation of Liberian people contributed to the success of the electoral process.”
Having completed its observation mission following the conduct of the runoff on December 26, 2017, the EU Election Observation Mission is expected to issue its final report and will recommend some ideas to strengthen Liberia’s electoral processes.
It also acknowledged the roles of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) during the elections, which it noted are positive expressions of the role of regional and international organizations.
The EU reiterated its commitment to remaining a reliable and important partner of Liberia, and to work with the incoming government on national issues as well as on regional and international challenges.
Some development programs the EU sponsors in Liberia are agriculture, education, culture, and arts. The EU and Liberia also have a trade agreement under the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), which allows the two to trade in logs.
The VPA sets the basis for legally certificated logs from Liberian forests to go to any EU country with some benefits from this trade agreement to impact the community within which the logs are felled.
In the 2017 election, the EU provided US$42 million to support the electoral cycle from 2015 to 2018. Also in 2011, the EU contributed 10 million Euros (approximately US$11.4 million) to the electoral process.