LIBERIA
Parliamentary Chamber: House of Representatives

ELECTIONS HELD IN 1997

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Chamber:
  House of Representatives


Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  19 July 1997


Purpose of elections:

  In accordance with the terms of the Constitution, which provides for a bicameral Parliament comprising a House of Representatives and a Senate, elections were held for all the seats of the former. This new legislature replaced the Transitional Legislative Assembly that had sat since March 1994.


Background and outcome of elections:

  General elections (for the former bicameral Parliament) had previously been held in October 1985. Four years later, Parliament ceased to function when civil war broke out in December 1989. In September 1990, President of the Republic Samuel Doe was killed by rebel forces and, seven months later, a national conference vested legislative power in an Interim National Assembly which represented most of the country’s principal political organisations. In March 1994, this body was replaced by a Transitional Legislative Assembly, with 35 appointed members originally due to sit for six months. This term was extended several times and, in the meantime, Liberia’s armed factions signed a peace agreement in Abuja, Nigeria in August 1995. Until then, multinational forces (ECOMOG from West Africa, UNOMIL from the United Nations) had failed to bring about a lasting cease-fire. Despite the Abuja pact, fighting persisted principally between the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) forces of Mr. Charles Taylor and the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO). Finally, in August 1996, the principal faction leaders signed a further peace agreement. In January 1997, Mr. Taylor announced that the NPFL had been officially dissolved, in accordance with the pact; the movement was to be reconstituted as a political organisation, the National Patriotic Party (NPP).

On 14 February 1997, the long-awaited general elections (for a new bicameral Parliament and President) were announced for 30 May. Shortly before this date, however, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) postponed the poll to July due to continuing hostilities and the need for greater logistic preparation. The protracted civil war had claimed tens of thousands of lives and destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure and economy, and debate during the campaign which commenced on 16 June focused primarily on ways to redress the situation. The main presidential candidates were Mr. Taylor and Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, a former Finance Minister and senior United Nations official. For the bicameral Parliament, 16 parties were in the running, led by the NPP.

Polling was supervised by an independent seven-member electoral commission and monitored by international observers, including teams from the Carter Center (US), European Union and United Nations. Security was provided by ECOMOG. Final results gave the NPP overwhelming majorities in both Houses. On 3 August, Mr. Taylor was sworn in as President, and the Cabinet was named the following days.

STATISTICS
Round no 1 (19 July 1997): Elections results*  
Number of registered electors 751,430
Voters 89% (approx.)
Valid votes 621,880

Round no 1: Distribution of votes  
Political Group Votes* %*
National Patriotic Party (NPP) 468,443 75.33
Unity Party (UP) 59,557 9.57
All-Liberian Coalition Party (ALCOP) 25,059 4.03
Alliance of Political Parties 15,969 2.57
United People's Party (UPP) 15,604 2.51
Liberian People's Party (LPP) 10,010 1.61
Others 27,238 4.38

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total
National Patriotic Party (NPP) 49
Unity Party (UP) 7
All-Liberian Coalition Party (ALCOP) 3
Alliance of Political Parties 2
United People's Party (UPP) 2
Liberian People's Party (LPP) 1
Others 0

Comments:
  *Global figures for presidential, House and Senate elections


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Copyright 1997 Inter-Parliamentary Union