IFES CEO Hails ‘the Respect Liberians Showed for Each Other’ during Elections

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During the October 10 elections, nursing mothers were ushered to the front of the line, to vote.

Especially the preference given to nursing mothers, elderly and the disabled

During the October 10 Presidential and Legislative voting process, mainly in Polling Centers across Bushrod Island, the lines were long; people would stand in them for hours on end, only to realize they were at the wrong lines.

Through it all, one thing was observed that didn’t get missed by international observers which was the fact that no one complained of the elders, ‘baby ma’s’ or those with disabilities being marginalized on election day. This was because they were accommodated and ushered to the front of the lines by other voters, in their attempt to help them.

William Sweeney, President and CEO, IFES (Photo: Greg Whitesell)

“The respect Liberians showed for each other while standing in lines for a long time is a statement on how people treated each other,” stated President and CEO of International Foundation for Electoral Systems, (IFES) Bill Sweeney.

During the 2011 elections, there were many nursing mothers who turned out to vote. However, they had to stand in line with their babies and, the moment the child cried for breast or to sit down, the mother would leave the line and go tend to the child. Observers noticed this and made sure to tell polling centers to be more accommodating this time around.

According to Mr. Sweeney, Liberians responded differently to standing in line as there was no shouting by people who waited for hours.

“I’ll tell you something, in the Kenyan election, when you see a woman with a little baby going inside, they would put a little ink on the ear lobe of the baby to make sure that the same baby was not brought back in by a different woman who didn’t want to stand in line. During the October 10th voting process, I didn’t see that in Liberia,” he added.

Founded in 1987 in Washington DC, IFES is an international, non-profit organization that provides assistance and support for elections in new and emerging democracies. Since 1987 IFES has provided assistance in 145 countries and it currently has programs in over 30 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Africa, Eurasia, the Middle East and North Africa and the Americas.

IFES is supervised by a board of directors made up of equal parts of Democrats, Republicans, and members of the international community. Sweeney replaced Jean-Pierre Kingsley in 2009, who was the founder.

Meanwhile, Sweeney said the peacefulness of the Liberian electoral process thus far is due to the fact that Liberia remembers the pain and agony it faced during the 14 years of civil war.

“Liberians know the true cost of war and know the cost of the absence of peace. They also know how long it scars their communities, their families, their generations and their governments. Now is the time to continue to say yes to peace. We saw it on October 10, it’s a terrific song; I’m glad you’re playing it and continue to play it. Continue to say yes to peace, that’s what this is about, God bless Liberia,” he said.

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