A twelve-member high-profile election observer team from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has arrived in the country ahead of Saturday's senatorial elections.
The team, headed by Mr. Leopold A. J. Ouedraogo, Co-President of ECOWAS Council of the Wise, paid a courtesy call on Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan at the Foreign Ministry office on Capitol Hill on Friday, December 19, 2014.
Mr. Ouedraogo and his team were accompanied to the Foreign Ministry by Ambassador Tunde O. Ajisomo, Special Representative of the President of ECOWAS Commission in Liberia, Ambassador Toyin Solaja, Special Representative of the Chairperson of African Union Commission in Liberia, and Nigerian Ambassador to Liberia, Chigozie Obi-Nnadozie.
The arrival of the ECOWAS election observer team is in response to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's request to the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, during his recent visit to Liberia for the sub-regional body to send observers for the Liberian senatorial elections
During Friday's courtesy call, Ambassador Ajisomo disclosed that the purpose of team's visit is to lend credence and credibility to the elections, especially as the elections mean so much to ECOWAS. Mr. Ajisomo said that ECOWAS was planning on fielding a larger number of observers, but the November 28th injunction on the holding of the elections coupled with flight complications made it difficult for the full contingent anticipated to have been deployed in time for Saturday's election.
Making brief remarks, the head of the delegation, Mr. Ouedraogo said the team's mission is a show of solidarity to Liberia as the country consolidates its democracy.
"We normally don't observe legislative elections but given the conditions in Liberia and other considerations, the President of the ECOWAS Commission consider it a duty to do so", Mr. Ouedraogo stated via an interpreter.
Minister Ngafuan, on behalf of Liberia and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, welcomed the team to the country, stating, "We are very elated that ECOWAS moved with dispatch in accepting the request of the Liberian Government".
The Foreign Minister hailed the sub regional body for dispatching a sizable number despite ECOWAS' inability to field the full contingent due to logistical reasons and the travel complications.
He expressed optimism that the maturity that Liberia's democracy has endured over time will help Liberia to steer through the Special Senatorial elections..
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's request for ECOWAS to deploy an observer team was followed by a meeting held in Abuja on Monday on the margins of the 46th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government between Foreign Minister Ngafuan and the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Kadre Desire Ouedraogo during which President Ouedraogo disclosed that ECOWAS had consented to the Liberian government request and would field a contingent of observers for the Special Senatorial Elections.