Monrovia – The West Africa Network for Peace-building (WANEP-Liberia) has taken proactive measures to ensure a smooth and peaceful conduct of the Presidential Runoff Election scheduled for Tuesday, November 14, 2023. In an effort to monitor, analyze, report, and facilitate responses to potential violent threats, WANEP-Liberia has deployed 133 local observers across nine counties in Liberia.
Supported by the European Union and complemented by Swedish and Austria Development Agencies, WANEP-Liberia’s initiative is part of its Electoral Violence Monitoring, Analysis, and Mitigation (E-MAM) project. The observers will focus on low, medium, and high-risk areas in thirty-eight districts, spanning Montserrado, Lofa, Grand Gedeh, Bong, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Nimba, and Margibi counties.
The Election Situation Room (ESR), headquartered at Bella Casa Hotel in Monrovia, comprises four operational sections: the Data Gathering Room, Analysis Room, Decision Room, and Communication Room. This integrated approach involves 45 mobilized Liberians, including youth, experts, and eminent persons, with additional support from WANEP’s regional office.
The ESR’s reopening was marked by a press briefing on November 13, where WANEP expressed appreciation for the peaceful first round of the election and urged citizens and institutions to maintain decorum for a successful runoff election. The Center for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) will support the ESR by fact-checking sensitive incidents and social media posts before public release.
With a critical election ahead, 2,471,617 registered Liberians, comprising 50.058% females and 49.9% males, are set to participate. This runoff is deemed crucial for sustaining the country’s democracy, marking 20 years since the end of the civil war.
However, the period following the first round witnessed political fluidity, with WANEP-Liberia’s National Early Warning System recording 23 incidents of violence and political tension from October 11 to November 10, 2023. These incidents occurred in various counties, including Nimba, Lofa, Montserrado, and Grand Cape Mount.
The WANEP-Liberia ESR highlighted key concerns and lessons learned from the first round, including identified hotspots, unregulated campaign activities, unofficial result announcements, and slow voting processes. The ESR called on the National Elections Commission (NEC) to address these issues, emphasizing the importance of professionalism, timely result releases, adequate lighting, and equal access to state resources.
In conclusion, the WANEP-Liberia ESR issued a set of urgent appeals:
NEC to exhibit professionalism.
NEC to release results in a timely manner.
Ensure adequate lighting during voting, counting, and tallying.
Political parties and supporters to refrain from unofficial result announcements, intimidation, and violence.
Promote rhetoric that fosters unity and acceptance of election outcomes.
Strengthen security response mechanisms.
Joint Security leadership to be proactive and non-partisan.
Media to avoid spreading misinformation on mainstream and social platforms.
The ESR will remain open from November 13th to 15th, 2023, from 7:00 am to 12:00 midnight daily, in a concerted effort to contribute to a peaceful and credible electoral process in Liberia.