By Harrison Arubu
Monrovia – The Head of ECOWAS Election Observation Mission, Mr John Mahama, has urged Liberians to reciprocate the goodwill of the international community by delivering a peaceful and credible run-off election.
Mahama’s advice is contained in a statement released by the mission on Tuesday.
The head of the observation mission, who is the immediate past President of Ghana, gave the advice after visiting some polling centres in Central and Lower Montserrado County (Monrovia) by 1030 GMT, the mission said.
Liberians are voting in the country’s delayed presidential run-off to elect a successor to outgoing President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
Former FIFA World Footballer of the Year, Sen. George Weah, and incumbent Vice President, Joseph are bidding for the top job.
A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) correspondent in Monrovia reports that the election began on a generally peaceful note at many polling centres visited.
Reports by local media indicate that a similar situation played out across the country with voters reportedly commending the “smooth and fast” process.
“There is usually a dip in voter enthusiasm during the second round of voting, but so far so good, all seems to be going on smoothly,” Mahama was quoted as saying.
He noted that the shorter queues this time, as compared to the first round of elections on Oct. 10 could be due to new measures introduced by the National Elections Commission (NEC).
The measures include the display of the voter register known as the Final Registration Roll (FRR) at polling units across the country to guide voters to their voting points.
However, some voters blamed the poor turnout on three factors , including fatigue, which was caused by the delay of the run-off, which was earlier slated for Nov. 1.
During the first round, voters were provided with free transportation by the country’s House of Representatives from the capital to their counties of registration to vote, but that was not the case in Tuesday’s exercise.
The Dec. 26 date for the run-off was also cited as another reason.
“Election officials appear better trained and more professional this time and this has removed the confusion experienced the last time,” the ECOWAS mission leader said.
According to the statement, about 150 of the 444 registered voters, including a visually-challenged voter, had cast their ballots at the James Kin Freeman Memorial School in the Suakermo Community, Congo Town, at 10.30 a.m.
“Voting started on time at most of the polling places, with polling officials and political party agents and security personnel on ground.
“Mahama, who also led the ECOWAS Observation Mission to Liberia’s first round of balloting last October, is this time heading 39 observers deployed by the regional organisation.
“He was accompanied on Tuesday’s observation tour by an ECOWAS Support Team led by the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs Halima Ahmed and the ECOWAS Special Representative to Liberia Ambassador Babatunde Ajisomo,” the statement said.
Liberia has an estimated population of 4.5 million with 2.18 million registered voters, 2,080 Polling Precincts (Centres) and 5,390 Polling Places (Stations) nationwide. (NAN)