Monrovia – The National Elections Commission (NEC) Thursday certificated the President-elect, Vice President-elect and 66 of the 73 elected lawmakers ahead of the January 22 inaugural ceremony.
At the ceremony held in Sinkor, Monrovia at the headquarters of the NEC on Thursday, 4 January, several international partners also renewed their commitment to support the new Liberian government.
The certification ceremony is the confirmation of the legitimacy of the mantle of authority vested in the elected officials by the voters and it paves the way for a historic inauguration ceremony on January 22.
The NEC could not certificate seven lawmakers because their respective victories in the October 10 elections are being challenge by opposing candidates.
Speaking at the program, President-elect George Weah promised to live up to his campaign promises of improving the lives of Liberians as he paid homage to outgoing President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Jewel Howard-Taylor for being the first female President and Vice President-elect of Liberia.
Weah called on members of the legislature to put aside politics and work in the interest of the country.
Weah: “I went to Boakai not to make news but because campaign is over and it is time to do the Liberian people’s work. Our quest is for all Liberians to work together to move our country forward; in the interest of the people let’s work.”
Reiterating his assurance of freedom of speech and even greater freedoms, the incoming Liberian leader said his government would not interfere with the tenants of democracy, especially political discourses.
“I am your friend but my interest is the Liberian people,” he said.
Speaking earlier, NEC Chairman Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoya said - “The certificate we are presenting to you does not only represent conferral of legitimacy to pronounce you to the world as the duly elected officials, but also an embodiment of the power, trust and aspiration reposed in you by your various constituents and the people of Liberia a whole”.
Cllr. Korkoya cautioned elected officials that the power that has been entrusted to them by the people comes with great deal of expectation and responsibility.
“Expectation to change their living conditions by the laws the incoming government will make and the programs that hey will undertake,” he added.
He acknowledged the contribution of USAID, EU, UNDP, ECOWAS, AU and IFES for their support to the Commission, which led to the successful conduct of the elections.
The NEC Chairman expressed appreciation for the respect for the rule of law and the use of the judiciary to seek redress to grievances during coming out of the elections.
Meanwhile, the international community has renewed its commitment to support the new government headed by Mr. Weah.
Speaking in separate remarks at the certification exercise the United States Ambassador to Liberia, Christine Elder, along with the UN special Representative to Liberia, Farif Zarif and officials of the European Union and ECOWAS head of Mission, praised Liberians for abiding by democratic principles in choosing their national leaders.
Christine Elder, United States Ambassador to Liberia, called on the new administration to reach out to candidates who were not successful by giving them the opportunity to serve as she re-echoed her government’s support to the new administration.
“As ever, the United States stands behind you Liberia and offers you our continuous support as you strengthen your nation and lift Liberians up,” she said.
“For all of life’s important journeys, what is important is not how quickly you get to your destination, but how you get there and safely.”
She described Liberia as the lone star shinning in Africa and termed the country’s recent electoral process as a “well run election” which has led to a “new day for Liberia”.
In his remarks, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General, Farid Zarif also extolled Liberians for their peaceful participation in the electoral process and called on the new administration to build on the gains made under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
SRSG Zarif urged the new government to properly manage the country’s abundant natural resources to improve the lives of Liberians.
“Let’s build a Liberia that all the international community will be proud of. Let’s build on the shinning legacy of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who brought us all the way from the end of the war to today and give to the nation something that it has always aspired to,” he said.
“I am confident that it is durable and let me quote you Mr. President-elect that it doesn’t make sense that Liberia is so rich, yet its people are so poor. That is the beginning of another vision. Let’s bring the two things together.”
For her part, the European Union head of Mission hailed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for abiding by her constitutional term limit and her role in the ongoing historic transfer of power.
She lauded all major stakeholders including the National Elections Commission, Liberia National Police, Supreme Court, supporters of political parties; civil society and the media for their role played in the electoral process and noted that Liberia can be an example to other African countries that have upcoming elections in 2018.
She thanked the EU nations of the Republics of Germany, Ireland and Sweden for their support to Liberia’s electoral process.