MONROVIA: The much anticipated presidential runoff between President George Manneh Weah and his main contender, Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Boakai took place yesterday, Tuesday, November 14, 2023, amidst low turnout across the 15 counties including Montserrado County just as the two of them expressed optimism of coming out victorious and commended the process as well as urging the citizens to remain peaceful during and after the process.
The runoff was necessitated by a constitutional provision which called for a second phase of balloting if none of the presidential candidates in a race do not secure an absolute majority of 51% of the total votes cast and that there should be a runoff between the two leading candidates with the most votes.
During the October 10, 2023 general elections, none of the presidential candidates could make the threshold of 51% of the total votes cast but only President Weah and former Vice President Boakai were able to emerge and the winner and runner-up respectively, thus pairing them in the final phase of the elections to determine who becomes the next elected President of Liberia.
Unlike the general elections of October 10, 2023 that drew a very large number out of the 2.4 million registered voters in the country, the runoff witnessed a drought of voters which was attributed to the lack of enthusiasm, momentum and apathy among the people.
The Analyst checks across the country analyzing the cause of the low turnout pointed to the fact that the race was only narrowed down to only two candidates, which was exclusive of the other candidates that contested for the 88 legislative seats that were available for occupation at the expiration of the tenure of 73 members of the House of Representatives and the 15 senators.
“You will know that the final race was narrowed down to only two presidential candidates, leaving out first the rest of the others that contested and the other lawmakers who contested. Most of those who contested and lost were demoralized to remobilize their supporters to support any of the Presidential contenders”, a former campaign manager for one of the defeated legislative candidates in Montserrado said last yesterday.
Others attributed to the mass trucking that went on across the country during the first round by politicians who either supported various candidates or contested themselves such as these politicians were defeated or ran out of cash to finance a repeat of the expedition in the case of some of the politicians who were desirous of supporting either President Weah or Ambassador Boakai.
Accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Kartumu Y. Boakai, the Standard Bearer of the Unity Party, Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Boakai, voted his usual polling center, Kathleen McGuire Catholic School in Paynesville from where he spoke briefly with newsmen, commended the resilience of Liberians in the democratic process, something he believes “could change their lives based on the ability to make the right decision at this time”.
He also commended the international community for their support to the process and urged Liberians to be peaceful as “we find the workable system that will help our country and its people using the right leaders otherwise this country should not be where it is at present”.
President Weah who was accompanied by the First Lady Mrs. Clar Marie Weah and his son, Champ and other government officials cast his ballot at the Kendenja Elementary School, Rehab Community told newsmen that he was excited that the process is coming to an end peaceful and that Liberians made use of their democratic rights to freely choose the leader they preferred.
The President, who was dressed in a white flowing gown and a white cap, told the media that he was poised for another term because he was sure the citizens would elect him overwhelmingly.
“I am always confident; I go through the process. Again, the confidence that Liberians have placed in me with my work. I think, with everything that I have done already, the Liberian people will elect me.”
“Everybody is voting, and there is no tension. That’s the democracy we want.
“I don’t want to say people are reluctant because up to 6 o’clock, people will be voting, so some people know the time they want to come vote. Like me, at 10 o’clock, I was supposed to be here, and I am here”, he said.
The Liberian Leader, who led his Rehab Community neighbor, Joseph Nyumah Boakai, in the October 10 polls with marginal votes of 804,087 to 796,961, equivalent to 43.83% to 43.44%, expressed delight over the high level of calmness and non-violent attitude exhibited by Liberians in the polling processes.
Former President of Nigeria, Mr. Goodluck Jonathan, who heads a delegation of the ECOWAS countries, while making his first hand assessment commended Liberians thus far for the orderliness of the process and urged them to be peaceful while the elections are being completed..
“We hope today will be as peaceful as October 10, and political parties will maintain peace in keeping with the Farmington River Declaration. In every election, there must be results. Whatever way elections go, Liberians should accept and work toward development.”
Jonathan further commended the National Elections Commission for the transparent manner in which they have conducted the process thus far.
“We call for a peaceful and transparent process. Liberia must be ready to work with whomever wins. Elections must be credible and seen to be credible by Liberians. The preliminary results show that both candidates are good.”
“The NEC has done well in terms of the processes, and the turnout is very encouraging, even though not at the first round”, he said.