The National Elections Commission (NEC), the electoral body of Liberia, will begin releasing provisional results for the Tuesday Liberian presidential, senatorial and parliamentary elections today.
To avoid a runoff, the winner of the presidential election must secure over 50% of votes cast. Liberians voted yesterday in a general election in which President George Weah is seeking a second term after six years. About 2.4 million people were eligible to vote in the West African country national polls.
NEC also said voting went well across the country, but that it might have to be extended in some parts of Sinoe and Rivercess counties that did not get their ballots on time. Some ballots were transported by canoes that capsized, said NEC chair Davidetta Browne-Lansanah.
Polls opened at 08:00 (0800 GMT) and closed at 18:00. A team of observers from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said a high number of voters came out very early waiting for the polls to open. No major incidents were reported and the voting was calm and orderly at various voting centres visited, ECOWAS said.
LEADERSHIP reports that a former chairman of the Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru Jega, is leading the short-term ECOWAS Election Observation Mission (EOM) for the Liberian presidential, senatorial and parliamentary elections. Prof. Jega had arrived in Monrovia, the Liberian capital, and was welcomed by Ambassador Josephine Nkrumah, ECOWAS resident representative to Liberia.
During his stay, the Head of the ECOWAS mission and his team held working sessions with different stakeholders including the National Elections Commission (NEC), government, civil society organisations, the media, security agencies as well as political parties and candidates in order to ensure smooth conduct of the electoral process.
Analysts believe the vote will most likely head to a runoff where Weah, a 57-year-old former soccer star who was first elected in 2017 in Liberia’s first democratic change of government in 70 years, is likely to hold on to power. Weah said he needs more time to fulfil his promise to rebuild the nation’s broken economy, institutions and infrastructure, pledging to pave more roads if re-elected.
“I have asked the Liberian people for a second-term mandate and that’s why we have come here,” the president said after casting his ballot at the Kendeja Elementary School polling station in southern Monrovia. I have cast my vote and I am happy to exercise my constitutional right,” he said, wearing a crisp white djellaba robe and matching white baseball cap.
Weah has faced criticism from the opposition and some donor countries for not doing enough to tackle corruption during his first term in office. Last year, he fired his chief of staff and two other senior officials after the United States sanctioned them for corruption. Weah’s main challenger among 19 candidates is former vice president Joseph Boakai, 78, of the Unity Party, who he beat in a runoff in 2017.
Boakai has campaigned on the need to rescue Liberia from what he calls mismanagement by Weah’s administration. Voters will also select members of the 73-seat lower house, and half of the 30-member senate.