THE CERTIFICATION OF WINNERS IN THE 2011 PRESIDENTIAL AND LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS
STATEMENT BY: CLLR. ELIZABETH J. NELSON
ACTING CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL ELECTIONS COMMISSION
AT PROGRAM MARKING THE CERTIFICATION OF WINNERS IN THE 2011 PRESIDENTIAL AND LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS
NEC CONFERENCE HALL, SINKOR
Her Excellency Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President-Elect
Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Vice President-Elect
The Speaker and Members of the 52nd Legislature
The Chief Justice and Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia
Members of the National Legislature-Elect
Officials of Government Present
The Doeyan and Members of the Diplomatic Corps
National and International Partners of the Commission
Heads of Political Parties
Leaders and Members of the Religious Community
Members of the Fourth Estate
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
My fellow Citizens:
We give thanks to the Almighty God for His divine guidance and protection upon the Commission during the course of the 2011 electoral process!
On behalf of my colleagues and staff of the National Elections Commission, I wholeheartedly welcome you to the Headquarters of the Commission and wish to congratulate winners of the just held Presidential and Legislative Elections.
My fellow Citizens, Ladies and Gentlemen, about six years ago, this Commission embarked on a historic journey which was characterized by fond memories as well as challenges. We are grateful to individuals and institutions that played significant role in helping us to overcome the road blocks.
Article: 1 of the 1986 Constitution of the Republic of Liberia states, “All power is inherent in the people. All free governments are instituted by their authority and for their benefits and they have the right to alter and reform same when their safety and happiness so require. In order to ensure democratic government which responds to the wishes of the governed, the people shall have the right at such period and in such manner as provided for under this constitution, to cause their public servants to leave office and fill vacancies by regular elections and appointments”.
Following the cessation of our civil crisis, Liberians have had the opportunity to exercise this power by choosing their leaders through the democratic process occasioned by the holding of regular elections.
In total, the National Elections Commission has conducted two Presidential and Legislative Elections and Nine By-elections since the Accra 2003 Peace Accord. In all of these elections, the people, in whom power is inherent, have always made the ultimate decision as to who lead them. Indeed the will of the Liberian People is beginning to prevail in the governance of the country and this is the true essence of democracy.
My fellow citizens, considering the impressive turnout during the first round of election on October 11, (71.6%) of registered voters; we can only take courage in the trend our young democracy is taking.
Once again the Liberian people spoke in clear and unambiguous term that Election is the best way for change of leadership.
The forth-right manner in which they conducted themselves prior to and during the polls is also worth mentioning. The Liberian people were tolerant and very civil and we commend them.
They lived by the true definition of elections; that it is only through competition that the best minds prevail. After all the debates and parades, we are all winners.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, My fellow Citizens, today we have gathered to certificate you as winners in your respective districts, counties and the country. When the people of Liberia lined up on October 11 and November 8, respectively, and ticked your name on the ballot, they consequently transferred their power to you to make day to day decisions in the governance of the state. The certificates we give to you today is in testimony of that transfer of power.
This trust by the Liberian people comes with a great deal of expectation and responsibility. Expectation to change their living condition for the better by the laws you make and the programs you undertake. Responsibility in the sense that each passing day you need to keep reminded that there are people out there who are depending on your judgment and the way you conduct the affairs of the state. You cannot afford to betray their trust.
Liberia is in the process of nurturing and fostering democracy which thrives on Elections and Good Governance. The regular conduct of free, fair and credible elections is the foundation of Democracy.
The electoral process must therefore be a part and parcel of the society; meaning that the process must be institutionalized. Institution and system building however require thorough planning and proper management. This brings to mind the need for capacity building.
As the 2011 elections have been conducted, it is now time to plan for future elections including Local, Special and possible By-elections. One factor that is paramount in such a plan is the building of the capacity of the Commission with emphasis on the Human Capacity. This means training and re-training of the technical and professional staff of the Commission in specialized elections related fields of study. With such knowledge and skills acquired, it is no gainsay, that the Commission with little or no external assistance will perform even better in managing and conducting future elections.
In this endeavor, the Commission will rely on its partners who understand the intricacies of elections management and of course, the government of Liberia to assist in providing the needed support to satisfy the training needs of the Commission.
Civic/Voter Education, the means by which awareness is created to enhance massive and informed citizens’ participation in the democratic process is another area that will be considered in the Commission’s post electoral cycle.
Though we recorded an impressive turnout in the 2011 presidential and legislative Elections, there still remains a need to strengthen our civic/voter education mechanism.
Our political institutions especially political parties must be made to live up to the true meaning of political institutions aspiring to take state powers. Reforming laws that were promulgated about 25 years ago is imperative. The Commission encourages you our elected law makers to take the lead in this area. It will require patriotism and a great deal of selflessness; we harbor no doubt that you will rise above the challenge.
Considering that laws will need to be enacted and budgetary allocations made for the achievement of these programs, your role as law makers become very cardinal. We expect your doors to be opened to the Commission at all times and not only during the election year. We thank members of the outgoing 52nd Legislature for the cooperation we received during their tenure.
Finally, may I close with a word of heartfelt gratitude to all of our international partners including UNMIL, UNDP, IFES, EU, USAID, AU and ECOWAS and all friendly governments for their support to the Commission over the years!
To all international and domestic groups that sent observers to observe the 2011 electoral process, we appreciate your feed backs, some of which pointed out areas that need improvement. We commit ourselves on this day to the implementation of your recommendations for the good of our democracy.
Last but not the least; we want to thank the Government of Liberia for its continued support to the Commission. To the people of Liberia, we appreciate your participation and call on you to remain engaged with the work of the Commission.
Finally, the commission wishes to express its condolence to the family of the late representative – elect of district #3 Sinoe County, Hon. Nelson Wah Barh, who passed away shortly after his victory in the election.
I ask that we observe a moment of silence in remembrance of this fallen son of our land.
May his soul and the souls of all faithful departed rest in perfect peace.
I thank you!