FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nov. 10, 2011
Contacts: Atlanta, Deborah Hakes +1 404 420 5124; Monrovia, Alexander Bick +231 880 326 379 or email@example.com
Carter Center Preliminary Statement on the Liberia Presidential Run-Off Election
The Carter Center's election observation mission finds that Liberia's Nov. 8 presidential run-off election was conducted in general accordance with Liberia's legal framework and its international obligations for democratic elections. Regrettably, the election was marred by an opposition boycott, violence on the eve of the election, and low voter turnout.
From a technical perspective, the election was well-administered and on the whole polling staff carried out their duties admirably at polling stations throughout the country. The process was conducted transparently, with domestic and international observers having access to all stages of the electoral process. These positive aspects build upon the National Election Commission's (NEC) performance in the first round and auger well for Liberia's technical capacity to conduct credible and transparent elections in the future.
However, the events of the past week show that important challenges to Liberia's democratic consolidation remain. The opposition's decision to boycott the run-off was based on their assertion that the overall election process was significantly flawed. These claims remain unsubstantiated. In addition, the Liberian National Police's (LNP) use of deadly force in an action against the headquarters of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) on Nov. 7, together with the closure of three media outlets, eroded confidence and contributed to an atmosphere of fear, particularly in Monrovia. These events suggest a significant failure of the political process to resolve electoral disputes peacefully within the framework of the law.
To address these challenges, the Center suggests a number of urgent steps: (1) We welcome President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's statement that there should be an investigation into the events of Nov. 7. This investigation should be carried out in a timely manner by an independent body to ensure a credible and transparent inquiry with full accountability. (2) All parties should respect the official election results, pending the resolution of any legal challenges. (3) Liberian political leaders should redouble their efforts for a genuine and inclusive political dialogue leading to national reconciliation and governance reform.
The main findings of the Center's mission include:
The Carter Center launched its election observation mission in Liberia in early September 2011, following an invitation from the NEC. Eight long-term observers from five countries arrived in Liberia in early September to assess campaigning and electoral preparations.
As in the first round, The Carter Center and Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) partnered to deploy an integrated mission of 52 observers from 20 countries who visited polling stations in all 15 counties. The Carter Center delegation was led by General Dr. Yakubu Gowon, former head of state of Nigeria, along with Dr. John Stremlau, Carter Center vice president for peace programs.
The Carter Center assesses Liberia's elections against its obligations for democratic elections contained in the Constitution, the Elections Law, and other relevant parts of the legal framework, as well as its obligations under international law. The Carter Center conducts its election observation activities in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation, which was adopted at the United Nations in 2005.
This statement is preliminary and focuses on the period surrounding the run-off election. The Center will continue to monitor the tally process and resolution of electoral disputes. This statement supplements previous Carter Center reports covering the campaign period; the voting and counting process; and the tallying process. A comprehensive final report, including detailed recommendations, will be published within four months of the end of the electoral process.
The full preliminary statement can be found at www.cartercenter.org.
"Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope."
A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers in developing nations to increase crop production. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.