Tuesday was declared a holiday in Montserrado county – the most populated county, where Monrovia is situated – in order to allow voters to go to the polls to elect a senator to replace one who died this past summer.
The election was allegedly rife with irregularities, as you can glean from the headlines below (photos shot yesterday, Nov 11th, the day following the election). Allegations of confusion over polling stations, lack of participation and low voter turn out, erroneous voter lists and threats to the Chair of the National Election Commission are among the problems that have made the by-election difficult for Monrovians to take too seriously.
The prevailing feeling is that the election is more of a referendum on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s ruling Unity Party, and George Weah’s opposition party, the Congress for Democratic Change. Indeed, this was the first election to be held in Liberia since the 2005 presidential election – some of the people I spoke to said they didn’t vote because they felt their politicians to be rather complacent, and not really working towards the much touted “New Liberia“. Others, on the contrary, are waist deep in political debate – Glenna Gordon writes:
I don’t remember hearing about a senator dying, or plans for elections, but all of the sudden a few weeks ago the streets were plastered with political posters. People were wearing brand new tshirts stamped with candidates faces and logos. My favorite slogan was, “You know it works.” Pick up trucks with megaphones seemed to be talking about politics instead of the usual cell phone promotions or amplified public drunkenness.
So far, the results are not in yet, but Sirleaf’s party seems to be in the lead.