The ECOWAS Observer Mission in Liberia for the just-ended senatorial election has outlined some challenges it observed during the conduct of the election.
Among the challenges encountered on Election Day, ECOWAS Mission headed by Leopold A. J. Ouedraogo indicated that there was an absence of adequate logistics such as suitable tables and chairs for electoral officials in some of the polling centers.
Poor lighting arrangements in almost all the polling stations and the absence of a display of registered voters’ lists in some of the polling centers were also some of the drawbacks that characterized the election.
The ECOWAS team noted that there was an absence of security officials in a number of voting precincts, particularly in more sensitive areas.
With the presence of Ebola still felt in Liberia, the observer team also noticed that there was noncompliance with health protocol relating to prevention of the EVD in some polling centers.
The report further indicated that some of the polling centers delayed in starting the voting process on schedule due to the absence of logistics.
However, the ECOWAS Observer Mission in its report highlighted the “Best practices” it recorded during the voting process.
Among some of the best practices were the easy location of polling stations, adequate guidelines on measures put in place to prevent the spread of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), and voting process conducted meticulously, transparently and professionally by the electoral officials, who demonstrated adequate knowledge of their roles, and in the effective presence of political parties and independent candidates’ agents.
The report further indicates that the positioning of the polling booths guaranteed the privacy of the ballot, while the presence of the media in some of the polling stations gave credence to the election.
In its concluding statement on the electoral process, ECOWAS said the insignificant shortcomings did not prevent the free expression by the citizens of their right to vote; therefore, the West African observer mission considers the Special Senatorial elections of December 20 to be free, fair, credible and transparent.
In the midst of the shortcomings mentioned earlier, the ECOWAS mission urged the National Election (NEC) to announce the provisional results within the stipulated time limit.
It also called on candidates and their supporters to comply with current procedures and the rule of law. It further exhorts particularly all candidates and supporters to comply with democratic rules and to resort to exclusively legal means of seeking redress for any grievance emanating from the electoral process.
Among some of its recommendations, the ECOWAS Observer Mission called on NEC to ensure continuous training of Electoral officials and party agents as well as initiate civic education campaigns for the populations in cooperation with civil society.
Additionally, the commission urged NEC to provide adequate logistical preparation and structure for the upcoming general elections in 2017, and to ensure that security officials play their role during the electoral process, especially of preventing crisis at the level of the voting precinct.
It expressed satisfaction over the peaceful atmosphere that prevailed during the polling operations and welcomed the absence of violence displayed by the voters and party agents.
The mission also expressed profound gratitude to the people and Government of Liberia and especially to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for her “Commitment to a peaceful democratic process” amid the public health crisis.