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Liberia’s elections can bring peace after conflict

Annan says Annan says Liberia’s elections after years of conflict can usher in peace, development, development

Saying that after 15 years of conflict, Liberia’s elections today can usher in lasting peace, democratic development and reconstruction, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged registered voters in the West African country to go to the polls.

“The decisions you make today will have a profound impact on the future of Liberia,” Mr. Annan said in a radio message to Liberians. “The United Nations calls on all registered voters to go to their designated polling stations and exercise their right to vote. I urge each one of you to make full use of this precious right to freely choose your leaders, and thereby play your individual part in bringing peace and democracy to your country.”

He noted that the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) had been working closely with the national security agencies to ensure an environment free from intimidation and violence. In addition, thousands of international and Liberian election observers had been deployed throughout the country.

Mr. Annan congratulated the political parties, their candidates and supporters, saying that over the past few weeks they had conducted their campaigns in a generally peaceful and orderly manner.

“They have demonstrated their desire to keep the peace process moving forward. I hope this will continue once the elections are over and the results are known,” he said, adding that after the new Government takes office, the United Nations Mission in Liberia and the rest of the UN family would remain fully engaged in helping it to succeed.

He also expressed his appreciation to the mediator of the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS), former Nigerian President Abdulsalmi Abubakar, for his tireless efforts to ensure that the elections were held on schedule and to the African Union (AU) and ECOWAS for their assistance to the people of Liberia during the transition.

He called on Liberians to let the day mark the opening of “a new chapter in the history of Liberia. A chapter of reconciliation and reconstruction, underpinned by good governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights. On those foundations you can rebuild a nation of which all Liberians can be proud.”

UNMIL later reported that the turnout was massive, with voters starting to line up at polling stations as early as 3 a.m. for the opening five hours later. The National Elections Commission would begin announcing the results tomorrow and the deadline for the final results was 26 October, it said.

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