7th Press Statement by the Covid-19 Election Monitoring and Violence Prevention Situation Room on the conduct of the Senatorial and Representative By-Elections and Referendum in Liberia
The Election monitoring and Violence Prevention Situation Room after active participation in monitoring and observing the December 8, 2020 conduct of the Special Senatorial, Referendum and Two By-Elections in Liberia, is pleased to present the 7th Press Statement on the conduct of the electoral process.
The Situation Room commends all participants for the generally peaceful nature that marked the electoral process on that day. In the opinion of the Situation Room, the general peaceful atmosphere characterizing the exercise is an indication of the collective will of the Liberian voters.
The Situation Room also notes with gratitude the presence of the joint security touring the counties, local and international observers, civil society institutions and organizations and the media for their involvement during the conduct of the elections.
National Elections Commission
The Situation Room further commends the National Elections Commission (NEC) for addressing some of the issues raised in the 6th Press Statement. In particular, the action of the NEC to send assessment teams to Normon-Datono Town in Kongba District, Gbarpolu County where there were reports of the seizure of election ballot boxes by youth upon the instruction of elders. The Situation Room takes note with interest the comments by the NEC that elections will go on in Gbarpolu County and the incident will not impact the entire electoral process.
The Situation Room notes the commendable role the local media played during the conduct of the December 8, 2020 Special Senatorial, Two By-Elections, and Referendum in Liberia. While the Situation Room expresses explicit confidence in the ability of the local media to remain professional in their performance, caution is expressed that objectivity should be maintained, and reporting should be balanced until the NEC has formally announced closure of the process. During this critical period, it calls on the local media to refrain from all acts that will have grave impacts including the use of inflammatory remarks and bias reporting on the electoral process.
Adherence to COVID-19 Protocols
The Situation Room while reporting on participants’ adherence to COVID-19 Protocols, states that majority of the voters were not seen wearing masks, hand washing stations were not regularly used, and social distancing remains a challenge.
Specific Actions and Notations
The Situation Room now reports on specifics in terms of election activities in Counties, issues emanating from the exercise and other happenings before and on Election Day. The reports are as a result of the Situation Room analysts observations, issues raised from its Call Center, LERN Platform and other general concerns.
Grand Bassa County
- The Situation Room observed orderliness and a peaceful process.
- Elections dispute management training of political parties Youth and Women, poll-watchers as well as violent prevention training, also contributed to the peaceful and orderly nature of the election process in the County.
- It was also gathered that during the voting process the youth, especially the motor cyclists’ respected the electoral guidelines.
- The Situation Room notes with profound regret the tensions and violence between political parties in Buchanan. It thanks the LNP and local stakeholders for bringing the situation under control and appeals to the LNP for conduct of an investigation to determine causes of the situation.
- The Situation Room Team visited the county and observed that elections process was reportedly calm; except for an isolated incidence of violence related to allegation of the possession of multiple voter cards.
- The temporary stoppage of the election due to electoral violence as a result of voter influence by some voters was reported in this County.
Bomi and Cape Mount Counties
- The Situation Room Team visited this area and observed that the voter Roll cleaning exercise conducted by the NEC with technical support from ECOWAS, USAID, UN, and other partners, is said to have contributed to reducing chances of elections violence.
- The civility of the electorate in the counties also accounts for the manner in which the process went in that part of Western Liberia.
- However, missing identity of assigned voter numbers at polling sites was an issue raised by eligible voters.
- Notation was also made of reports of eligible voters being trucked but whose names were doubled on the FRR did not vote.
- Mounting concerns about inadequate information and understanding of the Referendum is said to be negatively impacting the provisional results due to ignorance of the eight propositions
- The Situation Room Observation Team was also informed that some Damballa citizens voted in spite of fear of arson attacks since the December 5th incident.
Montserrado County (Rural Montserrado County)
- The Situation Room gathered that some electorate like their colleagues in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties did not participate in the Referendum vote due to inadequate information and misunderstanding. Despite this condition, the Senatorial and Representative By-elections went on peacefully.
The Situation Room reported some pre-election day incidents. Nevertheless, restating them should be considered as a matter of emphasis and importance.
- There were reports of irregularities related to voter roll updates, and were perceived by some citizens as being unfair, (Samordu and Selega Districts in Lofa County).
- There were reports of voter trucking which could potentially impact ownership and outcomes in Liberia’s western Counties of Bomi and Grand Cape Mount.
- There were reports of assorted inflammatory media statements, hate speech, and use of language of agitations by political candidates, their associates, or some media institutions.
The Situation Room makes on emphasis on the following during December 8 conduct of the elections.
- There was adherence to the rules and regulations of electoral laws.
- There was no report of voter intimidations across the country.
- There were reports from Nimba, Gbarpolu, and Grand Gedeh counties of voters being hindered from accessing polling sites, seizure of ballot boxes, and late arrival of electoral materials.
- It was observed that only CPP and CDC poll observers were in most of the polling Precincts and polling places.
- Timely counting by NEC of preliminary results of the Senatorial election, Representative By-election, except the referendum.
- There is no report of perceived fraud and mismanagement during the data processing.
- There are reports of premature self-declaration by some supporters of some political parties.
- Apart from the isolated in Gbarpolu County, there was no other attack on polling centers by angry voters, no destruction of polling stations or properties.
- There was no report of polling staff using influence in favor of any particular political party or abuse of authority by NEC staff against any opposition political parties because of connection with the said political parties or candidates.
- There no report of voter fraud, though counting is ongoing as of the date and time of this 7th Press Statement.
On this concluding note, the Situation Room continues its encouragement to the Public to make use of its call center on the number 2255 for both MTN and Orange to report any incidence of violence or electoral irregularities.
It also informs the media of subsequent release of statements as the need arises.