Move to halt entire process underway
By John Eche
Provisional results from nine of Liberia’s fifteen counties as now formally declared by the National Elections Commission, NEC have confirmed an early lead for ex-footballer, George Oppong Weah.
However, there are no indications that the footballer would sustain this lead till the end even as it is still unclear if he would be able to secure enough votes overall to get across the 50+1 per cent barrier needed to secure an outright win at the first ballot.
The provisional results were personally released by the National Elections Commission Chairman, Jerome G. Korkoya on Thursday.
The elections had held on Monday, October 10, 2017 and according to the extant rules, the two top vote-winners from the field of 20 candidates will advance to a run-off in November in the event that no one wins an outright majority.
Yet another complication is a move by one of the parties in the contest to halt the process of further release of election results.
This is coming from the Liberty Party, whose candidate Charles Brumskine was considered an equally strong ‘possible’ to take over from outgoing Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The party has presently threatened that it would consider taking legal action if the National Elections Commission (NEC) did not act on its demands.
“The Liberty Party is deeply troubled by the discovery of numerous incidents of irregularities and fraud that occurred during the elections,” Liberty Party national chairman Benjamin Sanvee said in its reaction to the developments so far recorded in the process.
“We are calling on NEC to immediately halt further announcements of election results. If NEC does not cooperate with our request, we will take the appropriate legal action,” he said.
Sanvee did not however give any specific evidence of voter fraud even as several observer missions have since largely applauded the conduct of the polls.
In a reaction to this development however, a NEC spokesman says the Commission was unaware of the Liberty Party’s complaint. However, Korkoya had already scored his team as having performed very highly in his first post-election briefing.
Independent evidence however outlines that on election day, materials including ballot boxes had indeed arrived late in some locations even as some people also struggled to find their names on voter rolls. It is however unclear if these are sufficient grounds to invalidate the total polls outcome.
However, it is being noted by observers that any insinuations of widespread irregularities could taint the results of an election expected to mark the first democratic transfer of power in over seven decades, and in a country that had been most traumatized by a second civil war that ended some 15 years ago.
Liberia, Africa’s oldest modern republic, was founded by freed U.S. slaves in 1847 but its last democratic power transfer dates back to 1943.
Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is Africa’s first elected female executive president, had won a tough second ballot victory in 2005 following a post-war transition. She was re-elected in 2011 and cannot seek a third term.
There had been earlier unsubstantiated announcements (not in The Difference though) of an outright Weah win in the two days following the successful conclusion of the polls. This has led many to assume that the former world football great was already confirmed as President-elect. One of those fooled by these reports is his former trainer and manager of the English premiership side, Arsenal, Mr Arsene Wenger, who through a tweet, had already publicly congratulated Weah ‘on his victory.’
Liberian presidential hopeful, George Weah