Kukatonon News
Press Release

Joint Press Statement By Civil Society Organizations on the October 10, 2023 Elections

Maintain the Integrity of the Elections and Preserve the Peace: CSOs Call on NEC and Political Parties and Candidates

(October 17, 2023) Distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the Press, fellow Liberians and
development partners. A very warm welcome to this press conference, convened by
several renowned civil society organizations. They include the Center for Transparency
and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), Integrity Watch Liberia (IWL), Organization for
Women and Children (ORWOCH), Women NGO Secretariat (WONGOSOL), Public
Health Initiative of Liberia (PHIL), and Accountability Lab Liberia (Alab). Others are
Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD), Paramount Young Women
Initiative (PAYOWI), Community Healthcare Initiative (CHI), Sister AID Liberia
Incorporated (SALI), Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform, and Kids
Educational Engagement Program (KEEP Liberia). These and other CSOs have been
very active during these elections, in part through conducting civic and voters’ education;
monitoring/observing campaign promises and finance, electoral violence, including those
targeting women and disadvantaged groups, voting, etc. We recognize cordial working
relationships mutually-benefiting partnerships with the National Elections Commission,
media, and other stakeholders that made these contributions possible.

Exactly one week ago, Liberians massively turned out to elect leaders of their choice,
including a president, vice president, 15 senators, and 73 representatives. We applaud
their courage and commitment to vote and shape the country’s future, despite some of
their past and current leaders not doing enough to tangibly transform their lives.
As observed by both local and international observers, overall, the voting process was
conducted in a peaceful and free manner. Access to the voting centers and ballot counting process allowed civil society, the media, representatives of political parties and
independent candidates, and international partners to closely observe the process, thus
increasing its inclusiveness, transparency, and credibility. The National Elections Commission has been tallying and announcing provisional results from the elections, in a largely transparent and open manner. These are notable positive developments and signs of the growth of Liberia’s democracy.

Despite the success of the voting and ongoing announcement of preliminary results, we are concerned about multiple issues associated with the elections.

Firstly, the pace of the counting and announcement processes is very slow, especially for
highly accessible areas. With increased anxiety and brewing tension among citizens,
political parties, and candidates, NEC needs to be more efficient in tallying and
announcing final results to calm down nerves. After nearly one week, the tallied votes and
results from some counties and districts are still below 70%. This is concerning.
Additionally, it is concerning to observe the confrontational approach taken by NEC
Commissioners when interacting with journalists. This adds to the very late start of daily
press conference, 5pm instead of the 4:30 pm schedule publicized. Unexplained delays
in announcing final results from electoral district 8 in Montserrado County, District 2 in
Mary Land County, and District 4 in Grand Bassa County raises concerns.

We acknowledge the 15-day window stipulated in Article 83(c) of the Liberian
Constitution; however, we also observe the slow pace with which results are announced,
as well as the delay in releasing results from places that are obviously accessible in favor
of more remote areas without any reason given by the Commission. The more the results
are delayed, with no clear information and explanations, the more people will speculate
about alleged wrongdoings or foul play. It is in NEC’s best interest, as well as the integrity
of the elections and peace of country, to timely process and announce all results from the
elections.

Finally, we have received distressing reports of violence and storming of the tallying
centers in Montserrado and Nimba Counties by supporters of some political parties and
candidates, especially the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). This is extremely
troubling, as it could be interpreted as attempts to manipulate/undermine the integrity,
transparency, and independence of the votes counting process. Furthermore, we are
deeply concerned about some candidates and political parties declaring themselves as
winners, when NEC is the only institution mandated by law to do so. This is a recipe for
violence, as it may incite overzealous partisans and supporters to act in ways that
jeopardize the peace of the country. Calm and maturity are needed, as we await the final
results from the National Elections Commission.

Recommendations:
In view of the above, we like to make the following broad and specific recommendations:

  1. NEC
  2. Enhance efficiency and expediency in counting and reporting/announcing the
    election results as well as respect time announced for commencement of the daily
    press conference.
  3. Show understanding and empathy when addressing concerns from journalists.
  4. Fully implement guidelines and regulations governing the elections, including but
    not limited to sanctioning candidates and political parties that will contravene
    established laws and guidelines.
  5. And, clearly inform the public about reasons why some districts are yet to be
    completed, especially in accessible locations.
  1. Political Parties and Independent Candidates
    Respect the electoral rules and guidelines and refrain from individual and collective
    actions that could undermine the credibility of the elections as well as incite violence and
    jeopardize the peace of the country.
  1. Stakeholders and other Civil Society
    Continue the engagements with the electoral process, working collaboratively with NEC
    to ensure a free, transparent and credible process.

Conclusion
As the electoral process is still ongoing, we would like to call on all candidates and political
parties as well as the general public to remain calm, peaceful, tolerant, and closely
observe the process. We urge individuals and groups with grievances to address them
through established mechanisms. The rule of law must prevail at all times in Liberia,
especially during these elections. Let’s work to preserve the peace and show to the world
that we are capable of managing our electoral and other key processes, with the required
levels of inclusiveness, transparency, fairness, and integrity.

Thank you.

Signed:

Anderson D. Miamen, (Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia)

Naomi Tulay-Solanke, (Community Healthcare Initiative)

Adama Dempster, (Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia)

Atty. Mmonbeydo Joah, (Organization for Women and Children)

Harold Marvin Aidoo, (Integrity Watch Liberia)

Lawrence Yealue, (Accountability Lab Liberia)

Matthias Yeanay, (Institute for Research and Democratic Development)

Joyce Kilikpo, (Public Health Initiative of Liberia)

Miatta Darwolor, (Sisters AID Liberia Inc.)

Esther Davies-Yango, (Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia)

Atty. Facia Harris, (Paramount Young Women Initiative)

Brenda Moore, (Kids Educational Empowerment Program)

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