Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is sending an enlarged, 200-member Election Observation Mission to monitor Liberia’s Presidential run-off on 8 November, an ECOWAS Commission statement said here Thursday.
The delegation is headed by Prof. Attahiru Jega, Chair of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), who also led the 150 ECOWAS observers that monitored the inconclusive first round of the presidential polls 11 October.
The Commission said that for the presidential run-off, ECOWAS is sending more observers to ensure adequate coverage of all the polling stations in the country’s 15 counties and also to maintain presence in all the 19 collation centres for the counting of votes.
According to the final results released by Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC), none of the 16 presidential candidates received the constitutional 50 per cent plus one vote in the first round, hence the run-off between the two frontrunners, incumbent President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of the United Party (UP) and Mr. Winston Tubman of the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC).
In its Preliminary Declaration, the ECOWAS Election Observation Mission had noted that on the whole, the elections were conducted ''under acceptable conditions of freedom of voters and transparency of the process”.
Ahead of the run-off, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador James Victor Gbeho, has urged Liberians to eschew narrow partisan consideration in favour of national interest and regional stability.
In a statement, the President made it clear that “the run-off election will go ahead as planned, and for as long as there are more than one competing candidates and provided it is adjudged by the competent authorities, and certified by credible observers, to be transparent, free and credible, ECOWAS will recognize whoever emerges as President”.
The Commission also put on notice “all those, who may harbour any temptation to disturb the fragile peace in Liberia, that ECOWAS will participate in taking all appropriate measures under the framework of the United Nations Security Council mandate to preserve stability in the country”.
The warning became necessary after the CDC threatened to boycott the run-off unless the electoral chief resigns.
However, CDC presidential candidate Tubman told a news conference Monday that the party would take part in the run-off, after elections commission chairman James Fromayan resigned.
Some 1.7 million registered Liberian voters - out of an estimated population of four million - went to the polls on 11 October to elect a president, senators and members of the National House of Representatives.
-0- PANA SEG 3Nov2011