Issued on • Modified
African Press Review 27 December, 2017
The Presidential election in Liberia; consolidating democracy and making Africa proud. And, continuing fuel shortages in Nigeria, as usual.
Counting is underway in Liberia - Africa's oldest Republic - following yesterday’s delayed run-off Presidential election between former soccer star George Weah and the ruling Unity Party’s candidate Vice President Joseph Boakai.
The New Dawn reports a lower turnout than in the first round of voting in October but notes that "At least, no violence was reported."
The paper reminds us that the run-off election comes after a month of legal challenge against the October polls contested by 20 candidates without a decisive winner, a challenge finally dismissed by the the Supreme Court.
That much we knew. What's especially noteworthy, says New Dawn, is that "he December poll will determine Liberia's next President to whom incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is due to hand over power in January in a smooth transition process for the first time in 73 years."
The paper tells us that President Sirleaf has issued an Executive Order No. 91 which aims to establish mechanisms for the proper management and orderly transfer of executive power from the current administration to incoming President.
Sirleaf is due to hand over power to a new President next month after serving two consecutive six-years terms. But, given its turbulent history, Liberia does not have such mechanisms in place.
Coverage by the Daily Observer is more melodramatic. The headline on its lede story is "Fear of Fraud Looms".
"Fears loom about the outcome of the run-off election results given early reports of fraud, the summary dismissal of a key functionary in the National Elections Commission (NEC) data centre as well as the NEC’s denial of access to its data centre for ECOWAS experts and observers of the National Democratic Institute (NDI).
"Reliable sources say no valid reasons have been given by the NEC chairman," the paper says - adding that "It may be recalled that fraud was at the centerpiece of the protesting parties’ claims about irregularities in the October 10 elections."
On a slightly more positive note, the paper says "Vice President Joseph Boakai has promised to accept the final result of the runoff provided the results meet standards deemed credible, fair and transparent."
His opponent, George Weah, is quoted as saying his leadership "will focus on reuniting the country and its people" and that he "will run an inclusive government that will comprise all political parties."
Liberia's other paper Front Page Africa says the runoff was marred by "a very low turnout," voter apathy" and "allegations of cheating."
"Many predicted that December 26 was not a suitable date for election," the paper says.
"The frenzy of Christmas coupled with concerns about cleaning up the final registration roll caste doubts over the turnout."
Nonetheless, Front Page Africa quotes Nigerian former President Goodluck Jonathan, leader of the NDI observers’ delegation, as saying "Overall, we believe that the elections will be successful and Liberia and indeed Africa will be proud that this country is consolidating democracy.”
In Nigeria, Punch ledes on the continuing fuel shortage there.
"On Tuesday, oil marketers under the aegis of the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association said they did not have Premium Motor Spirit in their tanks.
DAPPMA said its members had not received petrol in their depots despite the recent announcement by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation that it had started offloading products in depots across the country.
Many filling stations, particularly those run by independent oil marketers in Lagos and Abuja, were closed on Tuesday, while queues of motorists and other petrol seekers persisted in front of the few stations that dispensed the product in the Federal Capital Territory and other near-by states.
Punch reports that DAPPMA Executive Secretary, Olufemi Adewole, said in a statement, “While we cannot confirm or dispute the NNPC’s claims of having sufficient product stock, we can confirm that the products are not in our tanks and as such cannot be distributed."
Adewole stated that DAPPMA members were ready to undertake 24-hour loading and truck-out if petrol was provided to them by the Petroleum Products Marketing Company.
That's OK, then. Or, maybe not.