A much-postponed election for half the seats in Ebola-hit Liberia’s Senate has been put back until the weekend — but cannot be further delayed, the country’s electoral commission said Monday. The vote for 15 seats in the upper house of parliament has been postponed twice already as the epidemic ravaged the impoverished west African nation.The National Elections Commission (NEC) said the poll will now be held on December 20. Football star George Weah — who played for Chelsea and AC Milan before retiring from the game in 2003 — and the son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Robert Sirleaf, are among the 139 candidates in the running for a seat.
The deadly Ebola virus continues to elude control in Liberia, with the outbreak retreating in some regions and popping up in others. And now, with Liberian Senate elections tentatively slated for next week, a debate is raging about whether it is safe to hold a vote. “People are going to march into the same polling booth, and touch the same pens, possibly,” says New York Times correspondent Sheri Fink, who has spent much of the last two months in Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone. “How do you protect people in that case?” Liberia’s Senate election was originally slated for October 14, but was moved to December 16. The country’s Supreme Court is considering petitions filed by civil society groups who would like to see a further postponement. But most Liberian political parties are pushing for a vote. The court’s ruling is expected on Friday.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Thursday banned all rallies and other mass gatherings in Monrovia before the senatorial election scheduled in less than two weeks, asserting that they risked worsening the spread of the Ebola outbreak. The president’s order also extended the ban to 30 days after the election. The order came just as Liberia appears to have made progress in slowing the disease, which has also severely afflicted neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone, and has spread to Mali.
Despite the deadly Ebola outbreak, Liberia began campaign activities for the Special Senatorial Election, which will see 15 members of the senate elected in December. The National Elections commission said it would go ahead and conduct the election on December 16, 2014. “In keeping with the revised timeline for the 2014 Special Senatorial Election, the Commission is pleased to announce that political campaigns will commence on Thursday, November 20, 2014 and end 24 hours before Polling Day,” said Jerome Korkoya, chairman of the election commission. Supporters of former soccer star George Weah and Robert Sirleaf, the son of Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and a former head of the National Oil Company, turned out in their numbers to begin the campaign on Thursday in Monrovia. The President’s son will face Wiah in the race for senator of Montserrado County, in which Liberia’s capital is situated. Political rallies kicked off amid the sound of ambulances plying the streets, taking sick people to Ebola Treatment Units across the country.
The President of the Republic of Liberia, Her Excellency Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, acting pursuant to powers vested in her by both the Constitution of Liberia and the Declaration of the State of Emergency, has in a Proclamation issued on October 4, 2014, suspended the holding of the October 14, 2014 Senatorial Elections. A Foreign Ministry release says the President has also suspended all voting rights associated and connected with the Senatorial Elections.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has nominated Counselor Jerome Kokoya as the next chairman of the country’s Elections Commission. But, the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) said Kokoya’ s nomination should be withdrawn because he is a member of the ruling Unity Party. CDC national chairman George Solo said his party will not participate in this year’s bi-election in Grand Bassa County if Sirleaf does not rescind the nomination of Kokoya. However, Kokoya said, while he once contested for a legislative seat on the ruling party’s ticket, it would not affect his role as election commission chairman. He said he’s legally qualified to be chairman.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was confirmed the victor of a run-off poll boycotted by the opposition, and vowed to reach out to her opponents and reconcile the divided nation. Sirleaf’s re-election was seen as a foregone conclusion after rival Winston Tubman pulled out of the race and urged his supporters to boycott the polls over fears the process was rigged.
The National Elections Commission announced that with results tallied from 86.6 percent of polling stations, Sirleaf had won 90.8 percent of votes cast and Tubman nine percent. Only 37.4 percent of the country’s 1.8 million registered voters cast their ballots, with many believed to have stayed away due the boycott call and violence on the eve of the poll, when police fired on a group of opposition protesters.
Liberian incumbent President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf had won the run-off election, according to the preliminary results announced by the National Election Commission on Thursday afternoon.
According to the results, Johnson-Sirleaf from the ruling Unity Party got 513,320 votes, which constitutes 90.8 percent of the total votes. Her rival Winston Tubman from the opposition party Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), got 52,071 votes, which constitutes 9.2 percent. With 4,457 polling places across the country, 3,859 have been counted and tallied. The turnout of the run-off is 37.4 percent.
Liberians are voting in the presidential run-off despite at least one death during opposition protests and a boycott over fraud claims. Opposition candidate Winston Tubman said he was pulling out of the vote, but the election commission urged Liberians to cast their ballots. Nobel Peace laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female president, is now the only candidate.
A BBC reporter says turnout seems much lower than in the first round. The BBC’s Jonathan Paye-Layleh in central Monrovia says at the polling station where he was when voting began, just eight people were waiting to cast their ballots, compared to hundreds last month.
Liberia’s election commission chief has resigned after accusations of bias in the recent presidential elections and just days before a planned presidential runoff. “I chose to step down for the sake of Liberia and so that (challenger Winston Tubman’s) CDC [Congress for Democratic Change] would not have an excuse not to participate in the run-off,” James Fromayan told the Reuters news agency on Sunday.
Tubman last week threatened to withdraw from the November 8 run-off, the country’s second post-war vote, unless there was a change of leadership at the election commission. Fromayan, who has denied any wrong-doing, said he would be replaced by Elizabeth Nelson, his deputy, but he said he did not know it would be a permanent arrangement. There was no immediate reaction from Tubman’s camp.
The chairman of Liberia’s electoral commission resigned Sunday because of threats by the country’s leading opposition party to boycott November’s presidential runoff. The opposition says there must be other changes before it will agree to take part in the vote.
National Election Commission Chairman James Fromayan says he stepped down so Liberia’s main opposition party would not have an excuse to boycott the second round of presidential voting.
In his resignation letter, Fromayan said he is leaving “to give way to peace” because he does not want to be the obstacle to holding a runoff between incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the former justice minister Winston Tubman.
Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) has released final results of the Oct. 11, 2011 legislative and presidential elections, saying that none of the 16 presidential candidates obtained an absolute majority to be declared winner. The election law of Liberia provides that a presidential candidate must obtain 50 percent plus one vote of valid ballots counted as prescribed in article 83 b of the 1986 Liberian constitution.
At a news conference on Tuesday evening, NEC Chairman James Fromayan said this provision was never met during the last elections. “Consequently, none of the candidates is qualified to be declared winner in the presidential contest,” he told reporters, adding that a run-off will be held on Nov. 8, 2011.
“In this connection, I herewith declare that a run-off election will be contested by the two presidential candidates who received the highest number of votes in these elections including Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of the UP and Winston A. Tubman of the opposition Congress of Democratic Change,” he added.
The parties, which include candidates in second and third place so far, said the National Election Commission has manipulated vote-counting in favour of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Partial results show Mrs Sirleaf leading, but short of the majority needed to avoid a run-off vote. And the election commission later rejected the opposition charges. It has until 26 October to announce the final results.
Under the rules, if no candidate scores an overall majority, a run-off between the two front-runners will be held early next month. The opposition say they will not accept the result if counting goes on.
An opposition statement said: “We wish to notify the Liberian people of the massive fraud being carried out by the National Elections Commission in the handling and reporting of the presidential election results in favour of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Unity Party.”
A group of nine Liberian opposition parties on Sunday, asked the West African nation’s election commission to recount the votes of a presidential poll, alleging fraud in the results announced so far. The nine, which includes President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s two main challengers, said in a statement during a rally that they wanted Liberia’s National Election Commission (NEC) to release the total number of voters per county and recount all the votes.
The row is the first sign of trouble in Tuesday’s presidential election, the second post-war ballot which is a test of progress towards stability and Liberia’s readiness for investment in untapped mineral and agricultural resources. Latest results announced on Sunday showed that newly named Nobel Peace laureate Johnson-Sirleaf was leading with 44 percent of the votes, ahead of Winston Tubman of the CDC party, on 32.2 percent with some 1,162,729 valid votes and 96 percent of total votes counted.
Despite her lead, Johnson-Sirleaf remains short of the outright majority required for a first-round win and the NEC’s chairman said the election was likely to be decided in a second-round ballot.
Liberia’s electoral commission says the credibility of last week’s presidential vote is not undermined by eight opposition parties refusing to recognize its results. Opponents of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf are calling for peaceful protest Sunday after pulling out of a process that they say is being rigged to assure the president’s re-election.
Eight opposition parties say vote totals announced by Liberia’s National Electoral Commission are “null and void” because officials are manipulating results to favor Sirleaf. They say they will not accept the results if the vote count continues now that they have withdrawn their party agents from the electoral commission.
A rebel leader who videotaped himself drinking Budweiser as his men cut off the ears of the nation’s former president has finished third in this week’s presidential election, according to partial results issued Thursday, thrusting the notorious ex-warlord into the role of kingmaker.
Incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace laureate who is the continent’s only female president, may have finished first with 41.7 percent of the vote, according to the partial tally issued by the electoral commission that represents ballots from around one-sixth of polling stations. But with 24.5 percent voting for her challenger, she needs No. 3 Prince Johnson’s endorsement to win the upcoming runoff.
Despite being named one of the main actors in Liberia’s horrific civil war, Johnson remains popular in his home county, which elected him senator and he is in third place with 12.5 percent of the vote. “I will be happy to be the kingmaker,” Johnson told The Associated Press on Thursday. “And where we will put our support will depend on what our supporters say. … We will not put our votes into someone’s hands blindly.”
Africa’s first democratically elected female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last week – faces a strong challenge in Tuesday’s election from her long-standing rival Winston Tubman who has teamed up with ex-football star George Weah in a bid to oust her.
As Mrs Sirleaf made a final push for votes, she dedicated the prize to the Liberian people and urged them to vote for her so that peace prevails following the end of a brutal 14-year civil war in 2003.
Mr Tubman – a Harvard graduate, like Mrs Sirleaf – has been dismissive of the Nobel Committee’s decision, arguing that the prize will not influence voters. Mr Tubman, 70, believes Mrs Sirleaf, 72, might have support in the West, but Liberia’s 1.8m voters – many of whom are still mired in poverty – will remove her from office.
Less than two weeks before election day, Liberia’s Supreme Court says it is still considering the eligibility of the leading presidential candidates, including incumbent Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. The challenge to candidates’ eligibility comes from Liberia’s Movement for Progressive Change party and is based on the constitutional requirement that candidates be a resident in the country for 10 years prior to a vote.
That requirement was waived in the last election because the vote so closely followed the end of Liberia’s long civil war. But a constitutional referendum to reduce the requirement for this vote failed, so the party is asking the Supreme Court to declare ineligible six of the 16 candidates including President Johnson and her main challenger, Winston Tubman.
The Liberian Supreme Court is expected to hear a lawsuit challenging the decision of the National Elections Commission to certify 16 presidential candidates, including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, for next month’s election.
Article 52 (c) of the Liberian Constitution states that “no person shall be eligible to hold the office of president or vice president unless that person is resident in the Republic ten years prior to his election.” Last month’s referendum to change the requirement to five years failed. Sayma Syrenius Cephus, lawyer for the Concerned Citizens of Liberia, said the election commission violated the constitution when it certified the 16 candidates.
Liberia’s final list of candidates for the West African nation’s October elections has been published with 16 candidates vying for the presidential seat. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who took power nearly six years ago, is among the three female presidential candidates.
Sirleaf’s main contender is fellow Harvard University graduate Winston Tubman from the Congress for Democratic Change and ex-soccer star George Weah.
Liberian voters have rejected a raft of highly contested constitutional changes at a referendum, the electoral commission announced Wednesday. The stickiest proposed change was to shorten from 10 to five consecutive years the amount of time that presidential and vice-presidential candidates would be required to have lived in Liberia.
The existing clause was suspended in 2005 elections as most candidates had just recently returned from post-war exile. While more of those who turned out to vote in the referendum on August 23 backed the move than opposed it, by 292,318 votes to 246,473, the measure was nonetheless defeated as the ‘yes’ vote fell short of the necessary threshold of two-thirds of votes cast.
In Liberia, the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change party is boycotting this month’s constitutional referendum, in part, because it questions the neutrality of Electoral Commission chairman James Fromayan, a long-time supporter of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Fromayan says he set aside party affiliation on taking charge of the electoral commission and could not influence the outcome of a vote even if he wanted to, because results are read out at each polling station. “I can’t add one or subtract one from whatever result that comes because people will notice it,” Fromayan said. “They already know, have the results, sometimes they have the results before we can come to announce it.”