Election periods often have the potential to create tension and threaten social cohesion. Rising tensions can sometimes spill over into outbreaks of violence. Factors leading to violence include a lack of understanding of and confidence in the electoral process and rules and regulations governing the elections, in addition to manipulation of individuals or marginalized groups, particularly urban youths, by unscrupulous politicians.
Until Tuesday, this had been the worry of many Liberians and partners, having observed the reported tearing down of campaign posters and fliers. The situation prompted some concerned people calling for the postponement of the elections. Campaigns for non-violent elections intensified across Liberia because, in the minds of campaigners, tensions were at hand.
Long time politician, Mr. Togba Na-Tipoteh, who withdrew from contesting the presidency, is one of those who called for the postponement of the process, citing irregularities.
But the anxiety was very high on October 10 when Liberians turned out in their numbers to vote in the most-touted and historic elections. Generally, the momentum was impressive, setting the pace for Liberia’s peaceful transition in many decades.
Polls were closed at 6pm on Tuesday, in accordance with NEC schedule and ballot counting began. However, many Liberians remained resilient in queues Tuesday night to vote.
In comparing this to previous postwar elections: in 2005 and 2011, the overall atmosphere of Tuesday’s elections indicated that Liberia is making headway.
Observations by In Profile Daily and reports from polling centers across Liberia indicated that Liberians were in high excitement but peaceful mood to vote.
Diana Johnson, 34, in an excited mood after voting early Tuesday on Somalia Drive, said this: “I have exercised my right. I have voted for my children’s future. I am calling on all Liberians to go to vote because the process is good.”
According to Diana, she joined the queue as early as 4am on Tuesday, adding, “I did not sleep because I knew the queue was going to be very long. This is how I was able to vote soon.”
The queues were long and the voters impatient at some polling centers due to the snail’s pace in the process. Also, there were reports of misunderstandings in some places. However, the reports, according to National Elections Commission (NEC) workers and observers, were not harmful to the entire process.
Be as it may, democracy is gaining strength and Liberians were able to express their constitutional right. Furthermore, mature politics is taking roots in Liberia based on the manner and form Liberians conducted themselves.