Ecowas condemns Liberia opposition's call to boycott run-offBy KEMO CHAM | Sunday, November 6 2011 at 12:42
The West African economic and political grouping Ecowas has described as “unfortunate” the decision by Liberia`s main opposition to boycott the November 8 presidential runoff and urged Liberians to go to the polls.
In a statement, the Economic Community of West Africa States cautioned the country's political leaders against inciting their supporters to violence and vowed to endorse any result that would emanate the poll that would be certified by international observers.
The 15-nation bloc's stance came after the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) party candidate Winston Tubman, who was set to contest the run-off against incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, issued a statement calling on supporters and Liberians in general to boycott the runoff.
The party also warned President Sirleaf against going ahead with the poll, hinting of mass action by its supporters.
"The Ecowas Commission regards this statement as unfortunate, as it is intended to undermine the election and the democratic process that Liberians are striving hard to consolidate,” the bloc late Saturday said in a statement signed by its president, James Victor Gbeho.
"It also goes against the grain of the discussions that Ambassador Tubman held with the chairman of the [ECOWAS] Authority.”
Mrs Sirleaf in a national address Saturday accused Mr Tubman of violating the country's constitution by calling for the boycott and urged Liberians to disregard the call.
"Mr Winston Tubman has called on Liberians to give up their franchise, their right to vote. He has told people to violate the constitution ... When you start violating the constitution, where do you stop?" Mrs Sirleaf asked.
She said the first round of elections on October 11 had been "validated by 4,800 domestic and foreign observers as free, fair and transparent -- not marred by a single act of violence."
"We are poised to make history, to not succumb to fear and intimidation, to not allow any politician to hold our country hostage, to not allow Mr Tubman to boycott, when what he is doing is forfeiting the right to the finals because he fears defeat," said Mrs Sirleaf.
Mr Tubman`s CDC had blamed the country`s National Electoral Commission of rigging the October 11 first round vote in favour of the incumbent Unity Party of Mrs Sirleaf.
The ensuing accusation and counter accusations that followed the announcement of the final poll result led to the sudden resignation of former head of the electoral body, James Fromayan. But the CDC said it was not convinced and called for a complete overhaul of the election body.
On Thursday, Mr Tubman held a meeting in Abuja with Ecowas chairman, Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan. According to the Ecowas statement, the CDC leadership was advised against boycotting the poll as it was “too late in the day”.
It said it was made clear to the CDC representatives that their demands were against the relevant Ecowas Protocols, among others.
“…the ECOWAS Commission deeply regrets the retrogressive tone of Ambassador Tubman's statement, which seeks to disrupt the concluding phase of the 2011 Presidential election,” the statement further said.
“The Commission wishes, therefore, to reiterate that, for its part, provided the preparations and conduct of the second round of the presidential election are adjudged by the competent authorities and endorsed by credible observers to be in accordance with the electoral laws of Liberia, the Community will proceed to recognise the verdict of the Liberian people.”
While making a last ditch appeal to the opposition, Ecowas urged the Liberian people to go to the polls, and warned political leaders against disrupting this effort.
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Beyond the ballot