The head of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) election observation mission to Liberia, Dr. Nevers Mumba, criticizes political parties and independent candidates who declare themselves winners of the October 10, 2023, elections before the National Elections Commission (NEC) officially announces the results.
“As observers, we can only observe and make recommendations. Only the NEC has the authority to announce the results. Anyone who tries to announce the results will create chaos, and Liberia cannot afford chaos,” Dr. Mumba warns.
Dr. Mumba made these comments during a news conference on Thursday, October 12, where he presented the initial findings of the ESIA observation mission.
Former vice president of Zambia, Dr. Mumba, emphasizes the importance of waiting for the NEC to announce the full results before claiming victory for independent candidates and political parties. He warns that self-declaration of victory could lead to chaos in the country.
Dr. Mumba’s comments were in response to an inquiry by a BBC stringer in Liberia regarding the ESIA observation of the Unity Party’s claim of a comfortable lead in the October polls.
However, Dr. Mumba states that the ESIA assessment of the electoral process is based on the principles and obligations of democratic elections outlined in the African Union (AU) declaration on the principles governing democratic elections.
He explains, “Our observation methodology follows the declaration of principles for international observation (DoP) and the accompanying code of conduct for observers.”
Dr. Mumba highlights the substantial good practices observed during the recent election, such as the provision of gender disaggregated data after the Biometric Voter Registration exercise, which promotes inclusive election management according to international best practices.
He emphasizes the importance of the Farmington River Declaration, which signifies political parties’ commitment to a peaceful election and the establishment of early warning and response mechanisms for election-related violence and human rights violations.
Regarding the political environment in Liberia, the former vice president of Zambia reveals that the October 10th polls marked the fourth consecutive general elections since the country returned to democratic rule in 2005.
He explains that the 2023 elections were primarily organized by Liberian authorities, with limited support from the international community and minimal input from the United Nations Missions in Liberia (UNMIL), which concluded its mission on March 30, 2018.
Dr. Mumba also observes the absence of significant electoral or constitutional reforms for this election, citing recent attempts to make substantial changes to the new election law, such as establishing a new independent body to address election-related complaints, altering the election date, and enabling Liberian diaspora members to vote with valid Liberian identification.
He recommends that the Government of Liberia enact provisions on compulsory gender quotas for female candidates, in line with Liberia’s international commitment to affirmative action.
“We urge the government to consider moving Election Day to a time that does not coincide with the rainy season, reducing logistical challenges and risks while facilitating voter participation,”.