MONROVIA — As today’s Supreme Court ruling means a significant delay in the Liberian presidential run-off originally scheduled for Nov. 7, The Carter Center reiterates its call for all political parties to reaffirm their commitments to a peaceful process and ensure that their supporters maintain calm and exercise patience as they await resolution of electoral disputes.
All Liberians must remain committed to ensuring a peaceful democratic transition from one government to another. Although the timing for the remainder of the electoral process is now uncertain, and continued delays could raise concerns about constitutionally mandated timeframes, The Carter Center is encouraged by Liberian voices that have pledged to put Liberia first and ensure that the peace is upheld.
The Carter Center’s election observation mission has been observing the proceedings before the National Election Commission and the Supreme Court. The Center notes that in the hearings to date, all parties to the complaints have been given sufficient time to prepare their cases and be heard before the adjudicating bodies. With one exception, the NEC has granted complainants’ requests to submit documentary evidence and call witnesses. The Center further notes that delays in these proceedings have often been caused by the political parties themselves requesting additional time or not being fully prepared at the time of the hearing.
It is crucial that electoral dispute-resolution processes are evidence-based to allow for a credible assessment of the impact the alleged issues would have on the results and on the ability of the people to express their will. In this regard, the Center commends the NEC for ensuring transparency throughout the tabulation process and notes that the results by polling station have been posted on the NEC website for public scrutiny.
The Carter Center urges all political parties with pending disputes before the NEC or the Supreme Court to do their part to ensure efficiency in the process. Similarly, the Center urges the NEC and the Supreme Court to review all matters expeditiously.
The Center commends repeated calls by The Coalition for Democratic Change for its supporters to maintain the peace, allow the proper institutions to do their work, and wait for the run-off.
As the public becomes aware of the implications of today’s ruling and the further delays in the electoral calendar that it will cause, the potential for unrest increases. In this context, it is critical for all parties to reaffirm their commitment to a peaceful transition under the Farmington and Ganta declarations, to refrain from using inflammatory rhetoric, and to work with all election stakeholders to ensure that the people of Liberia understand the process. To avoid misinformation that calls into question the rule of law, The Carter Center urges all stakeholders to communicate clearly about the impact of these rulings and the fact that any decisions should be based on actual evidence presented to the tribunals.
On Oct. 10, the Liberian people demonstrated a clear desire for peace and a determination to express their will at the ballot box, turning out in high numbers. The election day observations of the Carter Center’s mission were reported in a statement issued on Oct. 12. The mission remains in the country to observe the ongoing electoral dispute-resolution process and the run-off and will continue to report on its observations.