Monrovia, October 18, 2023 – Major Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) closely monitoring the 2023 General Presidential and Representatives Elections have voiced their growing concerns regarding the slow pace at which the National Elections Commission (NEC) is releasing election results.
A week ago, Liberian citizens turned out in record numbers to cast their votes for various leadership positions, including the President, 15 Senators, and 73 Representatives. Since the elections took place on October 10, the National Elections Commission has been gradually revealing the results from various tally centers.
In a press conference held on Tuesday, Civil Society Actors expressed their disappointment with the Commission’s inability to promptly announce results from areas that are easily accessible, citing rising tensions and anxieties among both supporters and candidates in these elections.
Those CSOs 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), among others.
Reading the statement on behalf of the CSOs, Anderson D. Miamen of the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia acknowledged the constitutional provision that allows the NEC 15 days to officially announce election results but emphasized that this timeline should not necessarily be exhausted. Miamen stated, “Despite the successful voting process and the ongoing announcement of preliminary results, we are deeply concerned about multiple issues associated with the elections.”
The primary concern highlighted was the slow pace of counting and announcement, especially in areas where the results should be readily available. Miamen noted, “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 alleviate concerns. After nearly one week, the tallied votes and results from some counties and districts are still below 60%. Unexplained delays in announcing final results from electoral districts 8 in Montserrado County, District 2 in Maryland County, and District 4 in Grand Bassa County raise serious concerns.”
He added, “The more the results are delayed without 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 for the integrity of the elections and the peace of the country, to promptly process and announce all results from the elections.”
The CSOs also expressed concerns about the NEC Chairperson, Madam Davidetta Browne Lansanah’s confrontational interactions with journalists and the continued delays in the daily press briefing schedule. They emphasized the importance of maintaining an open and respectful dialogue with the media.
Furthermore, the CSOs raised alarms regarding reports of violence and the storming of tallying centers in Montserrado and Nimba Counties by supporters of the Coalition for Democratic Change and other candidates who declared themselves as winners. “These actions were seen as potentially undermining the integrity, transparency, and independence of the vote counting process, which could lead to violence”.
In their recommendations, the CSOs urged the NEC to enhance efficiency and expediency in counting and reporting election results, respect the time announced for daily press conferences, and show understanding and empathy when addressing concerns from journalists. They also called for the full implementation of guidelines and regulations governing the elections, including sanctions for candidates and political parties violating established laws.
Moreover, they encouraged the NEC to communicate the reasons behind delays in certain districts, particularly when accessibility is not a valid issue. The CSOs also called upon political parties and independent candidates to respect electoral rules and guidelines, refraining from actions that could undermine the credibility of the elections and incite violence. They emphasized the need for a peaceful and mature approach while awaiting the final results from the National Elections Commission.
They however called on stakeholders and other Civil Society organizations to continue their engagement with the electoral process and work collaboratively with the NEC to ensure a free, transparent, and credible election.