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Liberia's Elections Conducted Fairly, U.S. Delegation Says

13 October 2005

U.S. observers congratulate Liberian people on peaceful, organized election

The U.S. delegation that observed the Liberian elections on October 11 "saw well-equipped and well-organized voting operations conducted by Liberian election officials, who implemented voting procedures fairly and accurately," according to a preliminary assessment released October 13 by the Department of State.

The high-level delegation, headed by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer, observed the voting, vote reconciliation, and counting process throughout the day at numerous polling stations in several counties.  Accredited observers from the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia observed election activities.

In the elections, an estimated 1.3 million registered voters were asked to choose from more than 20 candidates for the presidency and from more than 700 candidates for Liberia's two chambers of congress.

The elections were a crucial part of the Liberian peace agreement brokered by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which brought an end to 14 years of civil war in the West African country.  They were Liberia’s first elections since the end of that civil war.

The American delegation was in Liberia as part of the U.S. commitment to support democracy in the country, which was founded by freed slaves from the United States.

For additional information on U.S. policy in the region, see Africa.

Following is the text of the State Department statement:

(begin text)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
October 13, 2005

TAKEN QUESTION FROM OCTOBER 13, 2005 DAILY PRESS BRIEFING

Preliminary Assessment of the Liberian Elections

QUESTION:  What is your assessment of Liberia's October 11 electoral process?

ANSWER:  Following is the preliminary statement released in Liberia by the official United States Observer Delegation for the Liberian Elections:

The official United States Observer Delegation for the Liberian Elections, which was headed by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer and included Senator Lincoln Chafee, Congressman Donald Payne, USAID Assistant Administrator Lloyd Pierson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Donald Booth, observed the voting, vote reconciliation, and counting process throughout the day of October 11, 2005, at numerous polling stations in the counties of Montserado, Bomi, Margibi, and Grand Cape Mount. In addition, accredited observers from the United States Embassy in Monrovia observed voting and vote counting at numerous additional polling places in the above mentioned counties, as well as in Bong, Nimba, Gbarpolu, and Grand Bassa counties.

At all polling stations the U.S. observers saw well equipped and well organized voting operations conducted by Liberian election officials, who implemented voting procedures fairly and accurately. All appropriately documented voters who showed up at the polling places observed were allowed to vote. At all polling stations there were numerous party representatives and Liberian national observers overseeing the voting in a manner that did not in any way appear to interfere with or influence voting.

The Liberian people are to be commended for their enthusiastic and generally very patient and orderly participation in the electoral process. Turnout appeared to be very heavy at all polling places visited. The delegation observed voters waiting patiently in line for up to 12 hours to cast their votes for president, vice president, senators, and representative to the House. At a few polling stations where orderly lines were not organized, either due to lack of space or foresight on the part of elections officials, there was some commotion as persons tried to ensure their ability to vote in their appropriate turn. Liberian National Police and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) forces responded quickly to polling stations where such crowd organization issues resulted in commotion and they were effective in restoring order and establishing an orderly process for voting.

The Official Delegation and U.S. Embassy observers witnessed vote counting at several polling stations following the closing of polls. Numerous procedures for reconciling ballots used and displaying ballots for counting were observed. In all cases, the national observers and party officials appeared to be satisfied that ballots were counted and accounted for accurately. It is the view of the Official U.S. Observer Delegation that the procedures observed for reconciling the number of ballots used and for counting of ballots resulted in an accurate vote count. The Delegation urges all Liberians to accept the results of the election.

The U.S. Official Observer Delegation wishes to congratulate the Liberian people for holding a violence-free election and wishes to thank the Liberian National Elections Commission and UNMIL for their excellent organizational efforts. The Delegation would also like to commend the outstanding work done by the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, the Carter Center, and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, in supporting the preparation of these elections.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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