The general election, held on 10 October 2017, was the start of a process to elect a new president and members of the Legislature. This process was completed on 26 December 2017, as voters went to the polls to elect a new president in a highly contested runoff.
These are the first competitive elections in over 50 years that Liberian institutions have been solely responsible for managing. On 29 December 2017, the National Elections Commission (NEC) announced the winner of the run off and the inauguration of the new president is scheduled to take place on the second working Tuesday of January 2018, in line with the law.
International and national observer organisations all concluded that the elections met key standards and were credible, transparent and professionally managed. The election result will lead to a new administration and president being sworn in to presidential office.
As the United Nations Mission to Liberia prepares to drawdown in the next months, these elections represent a historical milestone for Liberia. The successful completion of these elections follows an appeal against the first-round election to the Supreme Court that was rejected by the court. All sides in the appeal agreed to respect the judgement, demonstrating a strong commitment to pre-election statements to respect the rule of law.
Overall, the security environment was peaceful for the runoff on 26 December 2017. Voting and counting were conducted in an open and transparent manner and monitored by over 4,000 national and international election observers and political party agents.
The UNDP throughout this process was a key partner to the National Elections Commission, which had the overall responsibility for delivering the 2017 general elections. The UNDP and partners, the European Union, Ireland, Sweden and Canada, provide technical support to the elections commission. Direct support to the 2017 election included assistance by key election experts and technical advice from Chief Technical Advisor, procurement of equipment and training materials to conduct the voter registration process, training materials and support for training of 18,000 temporary election staff in advance of the 10 October 2017 election, training for 7,200 security officers, and training in complaints and appeals for 42 hearing officers and clerks.
The project has also supported logistics and operational planning, a nationwide civic and voter education campaign that reached over 1 million Liberians, provided legal support to the National Elections Commission in its legal challenges and supported an ECOWAS team of IT experts who provided assistance with the voter registry.
Technical expertise was also provided to the election commission’s data processing unit that designed a secure data system for the election results management. In partnership with the Government of Japan, UNDP also supported deployment of security personnel for these elections, by providing living allowances and communications support for the police and other security forces.
A key principle in the project’s approach is the idea that election assistance is most effective and sustainable when it works throughout the electoral cycle, building national capacity and capabilities in the field of elections. With a budget of USD 16.6 million, out of which USD 10 million are provided by the EU, the project is scheduled to continue until 2019.