W. Africa bloc warns against Liberia post-election violence
Men look at newspapers headlines in Monrovia on October 11, 2023, after Liberians voted in their general elections. Liberians voted on October 10, 2023 on whether to give football legend George Weah a second term as president, with peace among voters' top concerns in a nation still scarred by back-to-back civil wars. (Photo by JOHN WESSELS / AFP)
(AFP) - West African regional bloc ECOWAS this weekend warned candidates in Liberia's recent elections against any premature declarations of victory and said it would crack down on instigators of violence.
Liberians voted on October 10 on whether to re-elect football legend George Weah, the favourite to win, for a second term as president, as well as choosing their new parliament.
ECOWAS and the African Union (AU) congratulated the government and the election commission for the organisation of a peaceful vote, marked by enthusiasm and a high participation rate.
The vote was the first to be held since the United Nations ended its peacekeeping mission in Liberia in 2018, which was created after more than 250,000 people died in two civil wars between 1989 and 2003.
The vote count is now underway, with the final outcome to be announced within two weeks of the vote.
"The attention of the ECOWAS Commission has been drawn to attempts by some Liberian stakeholders to declare premature victories or put undue pressure on the National Elections Commission (NEC)," the bloc, of which Liberia is a member, said in statement received by AFP on Sunday.
The Economic Community of West African States said it "appreciates and commends the people of Liberia for a peaceful voting process on Election Day".
"It calls on them to continue to exercise maximum restraint as they wait for official provisional results from the NEC."
It advised "all Liberian stakeholders to abide by the democratic tenets of a peaceful and credible electoral process".
In a warning to election participants, including political leaders, the bloc said: "ECOWAS, the AU and the International Community will hold them accountable for any actions that may lead to violence and instability."
If no candidate obtains an absolute majority in the election, a run-off will be held in early November.
ECOWAS, an organisation of 15 West African countries, has since 2020 been faced with a series of political crises in the region, including military coups in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Niger.
© Agence France-Presse