UN commends Liberians as voting in key election takes place peacefully
|Publisher||UN News Service|
|Publication Date||11 October 2011|
|Cite as||UN News Service, UN commends Liberians as voting in key election takes place peacefully, 11 October 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e97fcc62.html [accessed 4 March 2015]|
In a statement issued by his spokesperson late today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the smooth holding of the polls and commended Liberians "for exercising their right to vote in a calm and peaceful manner."
He called on the country's people, political parties and candidates "to preserve the existing peaceful atmosphere as the tallying of votes gets under way," stressing that the UN would continue to help the West African nation rebuild.
Today's polls are only the second since the civil war ended in 2003, and they are the first to be run entirely by Liberian electoral authorities. The previous ballot in 2005 was managed by the UN.
Sixteen candidates, including the incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, are vying for the presidency, with a run-off round slated for early November if required. Results in both the presidential and legislative elections are not expected for two weeks.
Yasmina Bouziane, a spokesperson for the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), said UN peacekeepers were on standby to help local law enforcement forces maintain security during the elections.
Ms. Bouziane said UNMIL had deployed more ground troops and increased air patrols to improve security and reassure Liberians as they cast their ballot.
"We will be there to assist the Liberian national police who are the first and frontline for response to any incidents," she said in an interview with UN Radio yesterday.
"The police have been on the frontline for quite some time. They have also redoubled their efforts with regard to border patrols following the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire. The UNPOL officers and other advisers and troops of the mission have been doubling their efforts as well in order to help sustain the peace that has been unbroken for eight years."
She said campaigning has "by and large" been peaceful since electioneering began in July, except for some incidents of "heightened rhetoric."