MONROVIA: It was a clash of titans, as others put it. Some call it a nationally cosmic fight. However it is described, the October 10, 2023 elections will down in Liberia’s history as the fiercest of all political contestations with impact coming years after. It has left the country highly politically divided along “Blue Waves” and “Green Winds” – the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and the former ruling Unity Party, as the rest of 18 political parties and independents sunk deep into the lowest ebb of the electoral ladder. Two weeks of ballot count by the National Elections Commission (NEC) finally culminated into the final verdict of the first round of balloting—final round of balloting because no political party got the constitutional 50 percent plus one of valid ballots cast. This automatically therefore warrants a runoff or a second round, with the NEC however releasing accumulated figures of all 20 contestants across the 15 counties. By the numbers announced by the NEC, the ruling CDC tops the lineup, while the UP trails next. The Analyst reports.
The ruling CDC has clung to the top of all 12 political parties and independent candidates who contested the October 10 general and presidential elections.
Madam Davidetta Brown-Lasannah, Chairperson of the National Elections Commission, made the declaration Tuesday, October 24, 2023, when she released final total count of ballots cast on the Election Day.
She declared: “October 2023 polls show that the ticket of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) obtained the highest number of votes 804,087, constituting 43.83 percent followed by the ticket of the Unity Party (UP) which obtained 796,961 votes, constituting 43.44 percent.”
The NEC boss was however quick to stated: “However, ladies and gentlemen of the press, Article 83 (b) of the Constitution of Liberia requires that for any presidential ticket to win outright on the first ballot, that ticket must acquire at least 50 percent plus one of the valid votes cast.”
She continued: “Article 83 (b) further states that where no presidential ticket obtains at least 50 percent plus one, the two presidential tickets that received the highest number of valid votes shall participate in a run-off election, to be held on the second Tuesday [of October] following the expiration of the time provided for in Article 83 (c). With the results of the 10th October polls showing that no presidential ticket obtain 50 percent plus one vote, a run-off election is hereby declared, to be held on Tuesday, 14 November 2023 between the two tickets that obtained the highest number of votes – the presidential ticket of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led by Mr. George Manneh Weah and the presidential ticket of the Unity Party (UP) led by Mr. Joseph Nyumah Boakai.”
Mrs. Lasannah said political campaign for the 14th November run-off election is hereby declared open today, 24 October 2023 and shall close on 12 November 2023 at 11:59 p.m.
On October 10, 2023 Liberians went to the polls to elect their leaders including a President and vice President, 15 Senators, and 73 Representatives.
Election Day, 10 October 2023, was characterized by a record high turnout of 1,949,155 voters, which constitutes 78.86 percent of the 2,471,617 total registered voters.
This huge turnout is unprecedented in Liberia’s modern democratic election history and it is due, in part, to the Commission successful transition from the Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) system of voter registration to the use of biometric technology for the registration of voters, which produced an excellent Final Registration Roll for the 10 October Elections.
The NEC Chairperson noted that the elections attracted much attention from some 10,000 national, regional and international long-term and short-term observers that were accredited by the Commission to observe the elections.
The observers, according to her, were deployed across the 15 counties of Liberia, and they took stock of how the NEC implemented international standards and electoral best practices in conducting the elections in Liberia.
Post-Election Day Happenings
The NEC Chairperson reported that there were post-election-day happenings in the country—happenings that ranged from disruption of tally processes across the country to electoral malpractices by some temporary staff recruited by the NEC.
“Specifically, at the Montserrado Tally Center at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex, five temporary staff allegedly involved in malpractices were arrested by the Police,” she said. “Similarly, in Grand Cape Mount Count, four NEC temporary workers were arrested by the Police for alleged electoral malpractices.”
She said in both cases, the culprits were remanded into custody pending court trial but that the names of these temporary workers were quarantined in the NEC database, as they will not serve in any future elections.
In Nimba County District #4, two polling places in precinct Beo Lontuo witnessed the disruption of the counting process when some individuals made away with ballot boxes, damaging their contents in the process, she further reported.
“This led to the re-run of the three elections at the two affected polling places in that precinct. Despite these and other challenges, the Commission notes the completion of counting, tallying and collation of the results from the 20 October 2023 in Beo Lontuo,” she said.
The National Elections Commission expressed thanks and appreciation to Liberians for voting in such huge numbers, and extended thanks to the United Nations, Ambassadorial Missions to Liberia, the African Union and ECOWAS Commission for providing technical data and IT support, as well as logistical and other equipment and materials, which strengthened the capacity of the NEC to deliver on the elections.
These partners are also appreciated for their intervention, through various mechanisms, including the National Steering Committee on Elections (NSCE), which advocated for the Commission’s readiness to conduct the 10 October polls, she noted.
“The Commissions also applauds the Ministry of Justice/Joint Security for their steadfastness in maintaining the peace,” she said, indicating that their proactive and reactive responses to incidents that could have permanently disrupted the electoral process, “but for your timely interventions”.
To the temporary staff as well as NEC employees and the NEC management team, Madam Lasannah said: “We thank you for your diligence in the preparation and execution of your duty during the conduct of the 10 October polls.
“To owners of properties that were used as voting precincts, the Commission remains grateful to you for your patriotism and selfless love for country.”
The Commission also applauded the general support of international, regional and local organizations including Democracy International, LEON, EISA, ECC, etc. and to the over 10,000 national, regional and international observers who observed the 10 October 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections.
“The Commission’s final commendation goes to political parties and candidates, generally for their peaceful participation in the 10 October polls,” she asserted.