-Amb. Boakai expresses trust in the electoral process

Amb. Joseph Boakai casts his vote

By Jerromie S. Walters

Like the incumbent- Amb. Joseph Nyuma Boakai, the Standard Bearer of the opposition Unity Party cast his vote as part of the November 14, 2023- presidential runoff election, and expressed trust in the process.

As Liberians visited the polls Tuesday, Amb. Boakai exercised his franchise at Polling Place #1, MaGuire Catholic School, in Paynesville. Elaborating his confidence in the process, he says- “I’m satisfied with what I saw, I don’t know what is happening around but I hope all is okay.”

Like several other Liberians, he attributes the low turnout to voters trucking during the general elections. Also, he says the low turnout may also be because electorate believe the process is not as tense as the previous elections, as such- they see nothing apt in being swift to visit the polls.

Amb. Joseph Nyuma Boakai goes head to head with incumbent President George Weah in the runoff, following the climax of the October 10, 2023, general elections, which they both, along with 18 other presidential candidates, failed to reach the constitutional 50+1 percent votes cast, to secure the presidency. 

As many did during the arrival of President Weah at the KendeJa Public School, Amb. Boakai was overwhelmingly embraced by his supporters upon arriving at the MaGuire Catholic School, and even prior to his departure. “Rescue one, our pa sorry, we made mistake-“ those at the polling center chanted, as the former Vice President appeared and departed the voting center.

Amb. Boakai was accompanied by his wife, and the National Chairman of the Unity Party (UP). In a brief engagement with the media at the voting center, Rev. Luthier Tarpeh, says he’s certain about their victory.

According to him, it is written on the walls because he believes Liberians are resolved.

Poor turnout

Contrary to what many saw during the presidential and legislative elections on October 10, 2023, the November 14, 2023, runoff election displayed a low voter turnout during the initial phase, in several counties cross Liberia.

Reports from Montserrrado, Nimba, Lofa, Bong, Bomi, Geand Bassa, River Gee, Maryland, Lofa and a scores of other counties throughout the process, showed a very low turnout of electorate. Like several other counties, the euphoria at the Jawoe Manalah Public School in Gboata, Bong County, revealed a scene of less than two dozens of electorates.Moreover, this is similar to the scene from a precinct at the Cuttington University campus in Bong County.

In Margibi, voters attendance in the round off election in District# 4 Margibi County, at St. Augustine Episcopal Mission High School at polling place 1, and 2 was very poor. Also, it was similar situation at the EJ Yancy Annex, District #3, Margibi County and several other seats in the county.

Like other counties and polling centers, Hope Academy High School, District #1, Ganta, Nimba County, was one of the empty centers in the county and across the country. Like them, the Messiah Christian Academy High School Ganta, Nimba County, wasn’t also excluded.

Conspicuously, scene from the N. V. Masaaquoi Public School, G. Dungbo public school and Lelekpayea precincts in Bong County also showed a ghost euphoria through the day.

During the presidential runoff election, there was also poor attendance in most of the polling places in Sanniquellie city,Nimba County.    

The turnout of voters during a runoff election is crucial for the democratic process and the legitimacy of the final outcome. However, it was observed that the number of voters that participated in the recentelection was significantly lower than expected.

Scores of citizens we spoke with say several factors could potentially contribute to this low turnout, including- voters trucking, and reluctance of voters because they believe the process isn’t tense like the previous elections. They believe during the October 10, 2023, elections- legislative candidates trucked electorate to different parts of the country, and because voters are only allowed to voter where they registered, those that were trucked doing the previous elections never had the resources to return to those places they were trucked to.

October 10, 2023, and the runoff election 

The National Elections Commission (NEC) of Liberia released the final results from the recently concluded October 10, 2023, legislative and presidential elections, setting the stage for a runoff scheduled for November 14, 2023.

The NEC declared that after a thorough and transparent electoral process, no candidate secured the 50% +1 vote majority to claim an outright victory. “With the results of the 10 October polls showing that no presidential ticket obtained 50% of the votes, a runoff elections is hereby declared to be held on Tuesday, 14 November between the two tickets that obtained the highest votes of the CDC and UP,” the NEC boss revealed.

At a press conference held at the NEC headquarters, Tuesday, October 24, 2023, NEC Chairperson, Madam Davidetta Browne Lasannah, revealed the final tallies from the October 10 polls, with incumbent President George Weah leading with a total of 804,087 votes, constituting 43.83%, followed by former Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai with a total votes of 796,961, accounting for 43.44%. With a turnout of 78.86%, citizens engaged in the democratic process, expressing their hopes and concerns for the country’s future.

The National Elections Commission (NEC) reported that the runoff, that’s currently ongoing, will be a crucial moment for Liberia. The two leading candidates, incumbent President George Weah of the CDC and former Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai of the former ruling UP, are the only two presidential candidates in the process.

Following the disclosure of the runoff date, the NEC urged all candidates, political parties, and supporters to maintain the spirit of peace and fair play. The people of Liberia are encouraged to participate actively and peacefully in the runoff election, exercising their democratic right to choose their next leader.

Security measures, as assured by NEC Boss, is being enhanced across the country to ensure a safe environment for both candidates and voters. 

The NEC says it remains committed to ensuring a credible and transparent electoral process, upholding the democratic aspirations of the Liberian people.