513 Political Rallies Happened Across 15 Counties For 2017 Election
Monrovia – The Liberia Elections Observation Network (LEON) has released its report on the ongoing election activities in the country.
Report by Bettie K. Johnson Mbayo, [email protected]
LEON said its observers attended 513 political party rallies across the country since the start of the campaign on July 31- October 8 of which 382 were large rallies of over 100 people, the remaining 131 were smaller, local events of between 40 and 99 people.
This included 33 large rallies for independent candidates.
Five political parties (and their candidates) emerged as having more significant campaign activities than the others. This includes posters, large and small rallies.
These parties are Unity Party (119 events), ANC (75 events), CDC (74 events), Liberty Party (48 events) and ALP (34 events). LEON has analyzed the methods of campaigning for these five parties in their report.
The Election observing network also assessed that security forces are playing a positive role in the larger rallies where they are present with only two negative reports. Most rallies were peaceful.
“Only 11 events (2%) suffered threats or violence. Apart from the well-publicized violent incidents in Sanniquellie and Monrovia, the majority of these were smaller events where there were no police present.
There were a further 15 reports of election related violence with destruction of political party campaign materials or longstanding tensions causing the incidents.”
“There were also 3 reports of candidates being harassed. Serious incidents were mostly referred to the police who were reported to be acting in 73% of cases referred to them.”
LEON observers also noted improper use of state resources at 32 rallies (5.9%) which were mostly use of Government vehicles, presidential appointees canvassing for the candidate or use of Government buildings by one party (not allowed to another).
However, observers reported that the overall environment in 87.1%of districts has been calm with tensions mostly caused by conflict between parties (15 cases) hate speech (9), administration or police preventing campaign activity (8) or intimidation of voters (4).
LEON observers report that generally election preparations are on schedule and that voter education is happening across 74% of districts, mostly NEC sponsored campaigns although CSO, traditional leaders and churches are sometimes also spreading information.
Only 55% of CVE campaigns are reported to be targeting women, youth, and PWD or majority populations in any way.
Women are also reported to be participating less than men in the process overall.
Women were generally being represented at rallies and as speakers, constituting only 64.7% of speakers and 35.3% of the audience. On the positive side, the majority (84.6%) of rallies were accessible to persons with disabilities.
LEON also announced that it has opened its operations and data center at the Head Quarters of the Federation of Liberian Youth,
LEON will analyze the data as it arrives from the field by SMS submitted by 140 LEON Long Terms Observers (LTOs) and 1000 Short Terms Observers (STOs).
These SMS go directly in the LEON database through specially developed software.
It has a team of data analysts working in shifts who will be analyzing information on opening, voting and counting throughout Election Day.
“LEON observers will be stationed in approximately half of all polling precincts and 20% polling places on Election Day.
The leadership of LEON will be at the secretariat and will issue statements on the process during and after Election Day.
LEON LTOs will monitor the tallying of results at all 19 tallying centers and continue to monitor the post-election environment.
LEON is encouraging all political parties to be peaceful during and after the Elections.
We appeal to the Media to allow the NEC to perform its constitutional mandate especially as the polls close on elections day October 10, 2017.
The National Elections Commission is the only entity with the authority to announce elections results and declare winners.
While we welcome the media announcing results, let us remember that these will be provisional and may not be fully representative since results from remote areas will come in later.
The network (LEON) is a platform of four Liberian Civil Society Organizations:
The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), Liberia Crusaders for Peace (LCP), Federation of Liberia Youth (FLY) and National Union of Organizations for the Disabled (NUOD) with the goal to meaningfully contribute to the democratization process in Liberia by providing an avenue for civil society to participate in monitoring and observing the 2017 elections. LEON has 133 observers stationed around the country since June, observing all aspects of the electoral process.
It has recruited and trained a further 1000 short term observers who will be stationed in polling places in all electoral, districts on election day, reporting on the voting and counting processes.
The 133 Long Term Observers will continue to monitor the post-election environment and to report on the tallying process.