By: Varney Dukuly
MONROVIA: Twelve of Liberia’s Civil Society Organizations, have called on the National Elections Commission to increase its speed in the announcement of Presidential and Legislative election results across the country.
The CSOs, among other things, highlighted that the more the results are delayed, with no clear information and explanations, the more people will speculate about foul play.
“With increased anxiety and brewing tension among citizens, political parties, and candidates, NEC needs to be more efficient in tallying and announcing the final results to calm down nerves,” the CSOs, in a statement said.
Liberians on October 10, 2023 turned out massively to elect leaders of their choice, including a president, vice president, 15 senators, and 73 representatives.
Speaking Tuesday, on behalf of the twelve CSOs, the Center for Transparency and Accountability (CENTAL) Executive Director, Anderson Maimen, stressed that it is in NEC’s best interest and the peace of the country to timely process and announce all results from the elections.
Maimen, however, termed the recent violence against the tally centers in Montserrado and Nimba by individuals said to be members of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) as troubling signs that could undermine the counting process.
The CSOs that made the joint call include Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia, Institute for Research and Democratic Development; Accountability Lab; Integrity Watch; Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia.
Others are Sisters Aid Liberia; Public Health Initiative of Liberia; Paramount Young Women Initiative; Kids Educational Empowerment Program; Community Healthcare Initiative; Organization for Women and Children.
They noted that individuals and groups with grievances arising from the October 10, 2023 elections must use the legal system in addressing their grievances as opposed to application of violence.
The NEC has come under intense criticisms since the election by the Civil Society Organizations and other stakeholders over its apparent slow approach in announcing the outcomes of the polls as well as the apparent unfavorable manner some of its officials address concerns originating from independent media representatives and other stakeholders.
This adds to the very late start of its daily press conferences beyond its own officially prescribed time. Although NEC set 4:30 pm for its regular press conferences, most often, the announcement is delayed up to 5pm, a situation, which often caused other invitees to go away.
The 15-day window stipulated in Article 83(c) of the Liberian Constitution could be the reason, according to some observers, behind the frequent delay by the National Elections Commission in the implementation of its duties.
“We also observe the slow pace with which results are announced, as well as the delay in releasing results from places that are obviously accessible in favor of more remote areas without any tangible reason given by the Commission,” the CSOs pointed out at a news conference in Monrovia, Tuesday, October 17, 2023.
“It is in NEC’s best interest, as well as the integrity of the elections and peace of country, to timely process and announce all results from the elections,” said Maimen at a news conference Tuesday in Monrovia on behalf of the twelve CSO.
Elsewhere the CSO said it is deeply concerned about some candidates and political parties declaring themselves as winners, when NEC is legitimately the only institution mandated by law to do so.
“This is a recipe for violence, as it may incite overzealous partisans and supporters to act in ways that jeopardize the peace of the country. Calm and maturity are needed, as we await the final results from the National Elections Commission,” declared another CSO official.