By: E. Geedahgar Garsuah & H. Richard Fallah
MONROVIA: In accordance with Article 83 (b) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, the National Elections Commission (NEC) has announced Tuesday, November 14, 2023 as the official date for the conduct of the much- anticipated Presidential runoff election.
Article 83 (b) states: “All elections of public officers shall be determined by an absolute majority of votes cast. If no candidate obtains an absolute majority in the first ballot, a second ballot shall be conducted on the second Tuesday following. The two candidates who received the greatest numbers of vote on the first ballot shall be designated to participate in the run-off election”.
Joseph Nyuma Boakai of the former ruling Unity Party (UP), on Tuesday November 14, 2023 will face incumbent President George Manneh Weah of the ruling tripartite-member Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) in what political pundits considered a “fight of the titans” for the Liberian Presidency.
Having accumulated 804, 087 of the valid votes cast in the October 10, 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections which constitutes 43.83 %, President Weah of the CDC will meet face-to-face with UP’s Boakai with an accumulated vote of 796,961, amounting to 44.44 % in what is expected to be a tough race for the nation’s highest seat.
The NEC, during its regular press briefing yesterday declared official opening of campaign for the second-round elections, on Tuesday, October 24, 2023 which will be climaxed at midnight on November 12, 2023.
The just-ended 10, October election witnessed the presence of 10,000 local and international observers with a record turnout of one million nine hundred and forty-seven voters, constituting 78.86 percent.
The process recorded one million eight hundred thirty-four thousand and five hundred and sixteen valid votes while one hundred fourteen thousand six hundred and thirty-nine votes were rendered invalid.
The 10, October election recorded one million nine hundred forty-nine thousand one hundred and thirty-five, out of a total of two million four hundred seventy-one thousand six hundred and seventeen (2, 471, 617).
During the first round of the election, there were two thousand and eighty (2,080) precincts, comprising five thousand eight hundred and ninety polling places across the 15 political sub-divisions of Liberia.
A total of one thousand twenty-six (1,026) candidates participated in the elections.
One hundred and fifty-nine of this number were females, constituting 26 percent while eight hundred and sixty-seven were males, constituting 85 percent.
Twenty Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates took part in the first round of the elections.
Of this figure, eight hundred and twenty-nine represented registered political parties while one hundred and ninety-seven were independent candidates.
In the final results by the National Elections Commission, Madame Browne Lassana announced that the ticket of the Coalition for Democratic Change, headed by incumbent President George Manneh Weah got the highest number of votes with eight hundred and four thousand, eighty seven votes (804,087), amounting to 43.83%; followed by former Vice President, Joseph Nyuma Boakai of the opposition Unity Party with seven hundred, ninety six thousand, nine hundred sixty one votes (796,961), which amounted to 43.44%.
The poll results also show that the Grassroots Development Movement (GDM) of Mr. Edward W. Appleton took a surprising third place spot with forty thousand, two hundred, seventy-one (40,271) votes, mounting to 2.20%.
Others include: All Liberia Coalition Party (ALCOP) of Mr. Lusinee Kamara thirty-five thousand, nine hundred, eighty-eight, amounting to 1.96%; CPP Alexander Cummings twenty-nine thousand, six hundred, thirteen votes, resulting to 1.61%; followed by Liberian People Party (LPP) of Cllr. Tiawon Saye Gongloe with twenty-six thousand, three hundred, ninety-four votes amounting to 1.44%.
Commissioner Brown Lansanah has at the same time thanked Liberians for the huge turnout in the just- ended Legislative and Presidential elections.
She further thanked temporary staff of the NEC, owners of the various precincts used by the NEC, and the international partners for their immense contribution towards the October 10 elections, noting that their efforts and commitment will not be forgotten.
The NEC boss also appreciated the twenty (20) political parties that participated in the elections, for adhering to peace and cooperating with the National Elections Commission.
November 14, 2023, runoff elections will mark the second time in six (6) years as per presidential records, that both George Manneh Weah of the CDC and Joseph Nyuma Boakai of the UP they will meet in a democratic clash for the nation
s highest seat, the Presidency. The last time the both candidates met was in another runoff election on December 26, 2017 in which the ex-soccer star, then Senator Weah, won the then vice President of Liberia, Joseph Nyuma Boakai, with seven hundred thirty-two thousand, one hundred, eighty-five votes amounting to 61.54% to Boakais four hundred fifty-seven thousand, five hundred, seventy-nine votes, resulting to 38.46%.
The second round of the 2017 elections was originally scheduled for November 7, 2023, but was postponed after Liberty Party’s then Standard-bearer Cllr. Charles Brumskine (late), in third place, challenged the results in the Supreme Court of Liberia .
The Supreme Court dismissed the challenge, then, which would have forced a re-run of the first round had it been successful.
Unlike 2017 where then Senator Weah entered into the runoff with a very wider margin over the then vice president Boakai, many political pundits see the upcoming runoff to be a tough fight for both candidates with the current neck and neck battle for the Presidency.
Will Weah repeat his 2017 strength over his rival Boakai, or Can Boakai change the narrative by swapping the numbers in his favor this time? A democratic fight to watch, as many, including the NEC, and the International community are urging everyone to keep the polls peaceful.