Vice President Boakai Outlines Reasons for Poor Turnout At Referendum

Tuesday, 30th August 2011

Monrovia, Liberia - Liberia’s Vice President Joseph N. Boakai Sr. has been outlining reasons for the poor turnout and huge number of invalid votes at the just ended referendum.

He observed that for many Liberians the referendum is a completely new phenomenon, noting that it was further complicated by the fact voters had to grapple with several issues, and not just one issue.

The Liberian Vice President further observed that the fact that there were no symbols or photos to help the illiterate population understand the issues made things worse. “It was in writing and with the illiteracy rate put at between 70 and 80 percent, it is understandable that many voters could not read between the lines to decipher what to do. Besides, the referendum was not the kind of thing that could be taught on radio. ”

Speaking on Monday evening, when a two-man delegation from the African Union Civil Society Movement, accompanied by Mr. Rameses A. Porte Jr.

and Madam Elizabeth Sele Mulbah of the Governance Commission paid a courtesy call on him at his Capitol Building office, Vice President Boakai said another challenge was that several aspirants transported voters outside of Monrovia to register, but that because most of them were no longer in the race, many voters could not go to areas they registered to vote.

Another difficulty, the Vice President observed, was moving from one part of the country to another due to bad roads in a country devastated by a protracted civil conflict.

“The huge number of invalid votes also indicates that people did not understand the issues they were to vote for or against,” the Vice President noted, but added that “the referendum itself was an eye opener for many… The satisfaction we get is that efforts are being made to let people know that decisions that affect their lives are in their own hands.”

Briefing the Vice President earlier, the Team Leader of the African Union Civil Society Movement, Dr. Mathias Adossi said the AU Civil Society observer mission documented several dysfunctions in the just ended referendum, including lack of adequate sensitization about use of the ballot paper.

Dr. Adossi observed that Liberia has made great strides in democracy, and commended President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the good work she is doing.

Dr. Adossi then presented a copy of the AU Civil Society Observer Mission report to Vice President Boakai for onward transmission to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.