The Security Council today praised Liberians for the orderly conduct of the first round of presidential elections earlier this month and voiced hope for an equally peaceful second round in a country that the United Nations helped to recover from a disastrous civil war.
In a press statement ahead of the 8 November second round, the 15-member body urged “all Liberian stakeholders to remain committed to the legitimate political process, exercise maximum restraint and work together to build confidence in the electoral system.”
Sixteen candidates, including incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, ran in the first round, with no one winning the necessary 50 per cent plus one of the total votes. Ms. Johnson Sirleaf, who garnered 43.9 per cent of the nearly 1.3 million votes will face runner-up Winston A. Tubman, who won 32.7 per cent, in the November run-off in the West African country.
The Council called on “international and national stakeholders, including civil society, to deploy as many electoral observers as possible, as invited by the Government of Liberia to monitor the second round.”
The UN has maintained a peacekeeping force in Liberia (UNMIL) since 2003 to bolster a ceasefire agreement ending a decade of war that killed nearly 150,000 people, mostly civilians, and sent 850,000 others fleeing to neighbouring countries. Its mandate includes helping to restore the rule of law and democratic processes as well as facilitating humanitarian assistance. It has a current strength of 7,775 troops and over 1,300 police officers.
UNMIL provided logistical support for the delivery of voter registration materials to remote locations and helped the national police develop an integrated security and contingency plan in the run-up to the poll, and deployed more ground troops and increased air patrols to improve security and reassure voters as they cast their ballot on election day.
Ms. Johnson Sirleaf won the first presidential election after the war in 2005, becoming the first elected woman head of State in Africa in what UN officials called a peaceful and transparent vote.