Rep. Jackson congratulated the Republic of Liberia on the success of its recent Presidential election, praising what the U.S. based Carter Center called a "peaceful, orderly, and remarkably transparent" voting process. The Liberian National Election Commission expects a second-round runoff election to occur as no candidate has secured the 50 percent of votes needed to avoid such an event.
Despite a quiet election, statements issued by one candidate welcoming the return of previous President Charles Taylor, currently on trial for war crimes at the Special Court for Sierra Leone at the Hague, troubled Jackson.
"I'm pleased to see democracy at work in Liberia, but I am concerned about certain comments made by one of the candidates.
"The US government has made significant investments in Liberia and in turn they've made strides in stabilizing and rebuilding, becoming one of our greatest partners on the African continent. It is disconcerting to hear a presidential candidate welcome the return of a war criminal, especially to a role in government. Such an event has the potential to completely reverse the progress Liberia has made to recover from civil war.
"While the remarks may have appealed to supporters at home, they have far ranging consequences, especially here in the United States. As a nation with a vested interest in the continued growth and success of Liberia and the stabilizing role it plays in the region, we hope that our efforts to bring Charles Taylor to justice were not in vain. I hope that all candidates will employ greater discretion and consideration for all in future comments."
More than 70 percent of Liberia's eligible voters braved challenging weather and logistics on October 11 to cast their votes. Although opposition parties have issued claims of fraud, all national and international observers have said they've seen no major voting breaches or serious occurrences of violence. Preliminary results showed incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf receiving 44 percent of the votes, ahead of diplomat Winston Tubman at 32 percent.