Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Liberia Referendum : 4 Propositions Rejected

Cllr. Elizabeth J. Nelson, Co-chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC) announced at a press conference on Wednesday 31st August 2011at the NEC HQ that, all four propositions that seeked to amend sections of the Liberian Constitution did not meet the constitutional requirement to be accepted therefore all the four propositions were not ratified.
"The
NEC calls on all Liberians to close this chapter and forge ahead with the presidential and legislative elections in October" the co-chair of NEC concluded.

National Tally Center Referendum Results Report for the National Referendum- Table of summary

Propositions 

Yes

No

Invalid votes

Results

Proposition One (52c)- reduction from 10 to five years in the residency requirement for the presidency or vice presidency

292, 318,

246, 473.

76, 912

Rejected

Proposition Two(72b) - an increment from 70 to 75 years in the retirement age of Chief Justice, Justices and Judges of  subordinate courts of records,

221,163,

322,223

72,317.

Rejected

Proposition Three (83a)-a change in the elections from second Tuesday in October to the second Tuesday in November in the election year

307,647,

234,517

73,539.

Rejected

Proposition Four (83b)-that except for the presidency, all elections for public office shall be won by simple majority

364,901

174,469

76,333.

Rejected

Click here for full results

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Voting ends in Liberia 23rd August National Referendum

Voting ends in Liberia 23rd August referendum with the Liberia's Election Coordinating Committee (ECC), which deployed 400 elections observers throughout 15 counties reporting that voting was peaceful.

The referendum was marred with an error on the ballot paper in reference to proposition 2 which seeked to change the tenure of Supreme Court judges from 70 to 75 years. Instead of giving an option of 70 years on one hand and 75 years on the other hand, the voters were asked to vote "yes" for 75years and "No" to 75years.

Bobby Livingston of National Elections Commission (NEC) confirmed this error and stated that NEC was aware of the problem. But added that, the problem will in no way affect the results for that particular proposition since voters will still be answering "yes" or "no" to the question in the middleof the ballot paper which states that "do you want the retirement age of Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts of record to be increased from 70 to 75 years."

Commenting on the error by NEC, Secretary General, Acarous Moses Gray, of the major opposition, Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) "This fraud has brought the credibility of the commission to disrepute" and called for the total restructuring of the NEC for the conduct of the presidential and legislative elections.

According to NEC, a proposition shall be considered approved when it receives two-thirds majority of total valid votes cast, "the final results will be announced to the public within 15 days of the voting.

AEP

Breaking News : Error on Liberia Referendum Ballot !!!!!!!!!

According to reports from Monsterrado, Nimba, Grand Kru and Bong County, there is a problem with proposition 2 on the ongoing Liberia 23rd referendum ballot paper which seeks to change the tenure of Supreme Court judges from 70 to 75 years. Instead of giving an option of 70years on one hand and 75 years on the other hand, ballot paper voters are asked to vote "yes" for 75years and "No" to 75years.

In an interview with Bobby Livingstone, the Director of Public Information at the National Elections Commission (NEC), he confirmed this error and stated that NEC was aware of the problem. But added that, the problem will in no way affect the results for that particular proposition since voters will still be answering "yes" or "no" to the question in the middle which states that "do you want the retirement age of Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts of record to be increased from 70 to 75 years."
"Therefore if one votes 'Yes' it will count as accepting the proposition to increase the retirement age and voting 'No' will count as not accepting the proposition"
He added that it was a printing error and the commission has since printed addendum and distributed to some polling stations addressing this error.

The terms of appointment for judges in the Liberian judicial system are defined by Article 72(b) of the 1986 constitution :
"The Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts of record shall be retired at the age of seventy"
A proposed amendment when passed would increase the mandatory retirement age for all justices to seventy-five from the current seventy.

Speaking to African Elections Project in Monvrovia, Dan T. Saryee Director of the Liberia Democratic Institute (LDI) said they have received reports from Grand Kru countywhere a lot of voters are disgruntled with the error and using it as a basis not to vote at all.In their opinion it was done intentionally to elicit an automatic "yes" votes on all the 4 propositions
He suggested that NEC should have come out with an official statement to explain the error. He is worried that "some politicians will use this error to discredit the results and the whole referendum process."

AEP

Breaking News : Error on Liberia Referendum Ballot !!!!!!!!!

According to reports from Monsterrado, Nimba, Grand Kru and Bong County, there is a problem with proposition 2 on the ongoing Liberia 23rd referendum ballot paper which seeks to change the tenure of Supreme Court judges from 70 to 75 years. Instead of giving an option of 70years on one hand and 75 years on the other hand, ballot paper voters are asked to vote "yes" for 75years and "No" to 75years.

In an interview with Bobby Livingstone, the Director of Public Information at the National Elections Commission (NEC), he confirmed this error and stated that NEC was aware of the problem. But added that, the problem will in no way affect the results for that particular proposition since voters will still be answering "yes" or "no" to the question in the middle which states that "do you want the retirement age of Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts of record to be increased from 70 to 75 years."
"Therefore if one votes 'Yes' it will count as accepting the proposition to increase the retirement age and voting 'No' will count as not accepting the proposition"
He added that it was a printing error and the commission has since printed addendum and distributed to some polling stations addressing this error.

The terms of appointment for judges in the Liberian judicial system are defined by Article 72(b) of the 1986 constitution :
"The Chief Justice and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and judges of subordinate courts of record shall be retired at the age of seventy"
A proposed amendment when passed would increase the mandatory retirement age for all justices to seventy-five from the current seventy.

Speaking to African Elections Project in Monvrovia, Dan T. Saryee Director of the Liberia Democratic Institute (LDI) said they have received reports from Grand Kru countywhere a lot of voters are disgruntled with the error and using it as a basis not to vote at all.In their opinion it was done intentionally to elicit an automatic "yes" votes on all the 4 propositions
He suggested that NEC should have come out with an official statement to explain the error. He is worried that "some politicians will use this error to discredit the results and the whole referendum process."

AEP

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Liberia 2011 Elections : Heritage & National Chronicle Breach Press Union Code of Ethics

[During the period under review 3rd week of August , the Center observed the following ethical breaches committed by the media since the start of the 2011 Elections campaign season.]

On August 17, the Heritage Newspaper and the National Chronicle published two identical stories they claimed were results of investigation into the conduct of cell phone companies accused of campaign financing.  Cellcom was the principal accused in the stories whose headlines were slightly altered and few words omitted from both stories. However, on closer scrutiny of the publications, it is evident that the story was the product of a single writer.

The August 17, 2011 editions of both papers accused the management of Lonestar, Comium, Libercess and Cellcom cellphone companies of a ploy to unseat President Johnson Sirleaf's administration by bankrolling her opponents in the upcoming elections. It even further averred that similar support was given during the 2005 Elections.

In the entire story, there was not a single attribution or citation of any documentation or source. They ran recitations of events they claimed happened in 2005 without providing substantive facts and details.

The reports were one-sided and failed to reflect the views of the cellphone companies.

In an earlier publication by Heritage Newspaper  on Tuesday, August 16, 2011  (Vol. 16 No. 188) "Cellcom Backs CDC,LP for Presidency", the paper alleged that the management of  CellCom GSM  of  interfering in Liberian politics, by providing financial aid to opposition political parties against President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the ensuing 2011 elections.

While frequently using the words investigation, reports, information gathered, there was no name, dates or reference of any sort to support the allegations.

Both stories were carelessly written and appeared to have been implanted in the two papers.

The Liberia Media Centre ( LMC) hopes that these publications would claim the urgent attention of the Press Union of Liberia as such act contravenes Article 13 of the Press Union Code of Conduct which states that: "a journalist should not publish or broadcast false information or unproven allegations".

Friday, August 19, 2011

LMC to Support Media Coverage of 2011 Elections

The Liberia Media Center has received funding from four of its partners, USAID through IREX, UNESCO Paris, the Danish based International Media Support (IMS) and the Africa Elections Project to implement an elections support program "Strengthened Media for Transparent Elections" for over three hundred local journalists covering the 2011 Elections.

The program would amongst other things support a multi-purpose Elections Reporting Center (ERC) for local journalists and provide training and logistical support for media coverage of the process across the country.

The ERC will provide daily online services for local reporters through the use of ICTs and social media applications. It will also provide monitoring services for media coverage and incidence of violence through a Call Center jointly run with the Africa Elections Project.

The Election Reporting Center will be furnished with a state-of-the-art E-News Lab for training and online reporting purposes. It will be equipped with a television, radio and newspaper monitoring platform.

The project will provide over 250 mini recorders, 50 motorbikes, 45 digital cameras, five High Definition Video Recorders, 50 smartphones and a free call network for three hundred reporters covering the elections across the country for four months.

Considering the crucial nature of the elections, the project will regularly release an assessment report and issue weekly alerts on the performance of the media, methodologically capturing major ethical breaches of the Elections Reporting Code of Conduct and the Press Union of Liberia Code of Ethics for journalists.

The alerts will feature typical violations such as Incitement, Biases, Partisan Reporting, Stereotyping,, Defamation and Misrepresentation of political parties and their candidates.

The Report is intended to promote greater public scrutiny of the media as the country goes through the 2011 electoral process.

 

Analyst

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pre-Election Reflection: Liberia’s 2011 Constitutional Referendum

Liberians will head to the polls on 23 August to vote in a Constitutional referendum called for by the Government of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. The Referendum aims to amend four articles of the country's constitution a mere month before Liberia is scheduled to hold general elections in October. There has already been strong disapproval of the referendum with opposition parties calling on their supporters to boycott the vote. Issues causing controversy include accusations that Johnson-Sirleaf's Government has squandered funds, decreased the political involvement of smaller parties and has failed to supply a credible referendum chairman. As recent events in Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire have shown, West Africa has had a tumultuous history as far as elections are concerned. These developments coupled with a large influx of Ivorian refugees, following the crisis in that country has the potential to destabilise Liberia during its upcoming referendum. This CAI paper discusses the threats and consequences of Liberia's upcoming national referendum.

The proposed Constitutional amendments

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's administration has presented four Articles of the country's constitution to the National Electoral Commission (NEC), tasked with conducting the referendum.(7) The Articles which are up for amendment are 52(c), 72(b), 83(a) and (b).

  • Proposed amendments
    • Article 52(c): Reduces the residency requirements for Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates, from 10 years to 5 years prior to the election.
    • Article 72(b): An increase in the mandatory retirement age for all judges from 70 to 75 years of age.
    • Article 83(a): A change in the date of national elections from the second Tuesday in October to the second Tuesday of November.
    • Article 83(b): The introduction of single round first-past-the-post voting for all legislative and municipal elections.

Included in these four amendments is the infamous residency clause 52(c), which currently requires a presidential candidate to have been resident in Liberia for at least ten years prior to election. The amendment to the Constitution will limit the residency requirement for presidential candidate to five years, thus allowing Johnson-Sirleaf to run for another term as President.  In addition to allowing Johnson-Sirleaf to run, a change in this particular cause will open the political field to a number of other candidates too.  Changing political events and economic conditions in Liberia have led to mass population movements. This in turn has created large populations of expatriates who have been excluded for the political process in their home countries but who would be able to take part in Liberian politics after 5 years of residency.

Background to the residency requirement clause

The residency clause was first introduced into the Liberian Constitution at the behest of the military junta which ruled Liberia in 1984.(3) Following the 1980 overthrow of William Tolbert, the last American-Liberian President,  Samuel Doe promised to return the country to civilian rule. Before this happened however, his regime instigated a reign of terror, intimidating and publically executing Tolbert supporters. In response to Doe's oppressive regime many of Liberia's elite fled the country, fearing prosecution. To deal with the large and influential population of expatriate Liberians before the 1985 election, the military junta called for a national referendum which changed the residency time required by a presidential aspirant to ten years prior to an election. The move effectively prevented hundreds of Liberians, including current President Johnson-Sirleaf, from taking part in the political process.(4) 

Doe's efforts proved superfluous as the 1985 election were fraudulent. Doe was consequently elected as President and, with his harsh stance against communism, garnered the support of the United States,(5) in turn allowing him to follow a ruthless domestic policy. This policy was instrumental in driving away thousands of Liberians and the question of who qualifies for Liberian citizenship was raised. Doe's regime also heightened ethnic tensions which directly led to the first Liberian civil war in which Doe was eventually killed by Prince Yormie Johnson in the country's capital, Monrovia. However, Liberia was to endure years more of war as rival rebel factions fought for control of the country.

The onset of violence in neighbouring countries, most notably Sierra Leone, and the support supplied to rebel factions both in Liberia and its neighbouring countries led to a cycle of violence and the anarchy which prevailed from the onset of war in 1989 was marked by a profound loss of life, social decline and institutional breakdown. The war eventually ended in 2003 with the help of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United States and United Nations (UN) peacekeeping forces. Following the end of the war, the Constitution was suspended under the Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord in order to facilitate smooth elections which were eventually held in 2005.(6) The 2005 polls brought Ellen Sirleaf Johnson-Sirleaf, the first female head of state in Africa, and the Unity Party to power.(7) However, the absence of a transparent democratic process  in years preceding the 2005 election, gave the Liberian people precious little time to make alterations to an ineffective system.

The amendment of Article 52(c) is probably the most important on the agenda as the failure in its implementation would result in the disqualification of many Liberians, including incumbent President Johnson-Sirleaf, from the 2011 elections.

Of the four Articles, 72(b) has thus far avoided controversy. However, the remaining proposals have been slammed by opposition groups who feel they would provide an unfair advantage to Johnson-Sirleaf's Unity Party. Johnson-Sirleaf's administration has stated that the amendments are necessary in order to facilitate a smooth election process with more inclusivity. Article 83(a) seeks to change the current election date from the second Tuesday in October to the second Tuesday in November in order to avoid the rainy season which hinders electoral campaigning due to many roads becoming impassable.(8) With respect to 83(b), Johnson-Sirleaf's Government aims to change the absolute majority requirement for elective positions, with the exception of the President and Vice -resident, to simple majority. Arguments in favour of the amendments of Articles 83(a) and (b) are that the proposed articles provide a better logistical backdrop whereby parties can campaign for votes and that they decrease the cost of conducting elections. According to James Fromayan, chairman of the NEC, run-off elections consume up to 65% of an electoral budget.(9) Consequently, the decision has been presented by the Johnson-Sirleaf administration as a move to lessen the financial strain that the electoral process puts on the country.

Proposed constitutional amendments criticised by opposition

Various opposition parties have called the referendum premature, describing it as a waste of precious resources. Foremost among the antagonists is the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), the leader of which, George Weah, lost out to Johnson-Sirleaf in the 2005 Presidential election by a narrow margin.  The party has filed a 12-count petition with a civil law court hoping for an injunction to be issued to the National Elections Commission to stop it from organising the referendum. It has also called on its supporters to boycott the process.(10) Opposition groups have called the referendum unconstitutional on the basis that the current administration had not consulted Liberia's citizens to discuss the objectives of the referendum as required by law.(11) According to the former head of Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Jerome Verdier, a referendum before a general election in October is a waste of scare state resources which would be better directed at logistical planning for the Presidential and Legislative elections. The capacity of the NEC has already been brought into question during a series of by-elections in 2010 whereby only 1.8 million of an anticipated 2.7 million voters could register.(12) Criticism has also been levelled at Johnson-Sirleaf's Government for their attempt to amend Article 83(b) claiming that this would enable candidates representing large tribal blocs to monopolise legislative seats perpetually. They argue that tribal leaders would vote in this amendment as it effectively makes their hold on power easier to beget. Former Foreign minister, Lewis Brown, specifically questions this amendment,(13) claiming that it has the capacity to increase ethnic tensions and perpetuate the presence of larger ethnic groups in power.

Many smaller parties question the amendment of Article 52(c) as they argue it is self-serving, ultimately benefitting Johnson-Sirleaf. However, as Fromayan correctly argues; the ten year residency clause affects most of the running candidates, including Johnson-Sirleaf and the biggest opposition leader, George Weah.(14) (It should be noted that Fromayan, a long-time supporter of Johnson-Sirleaf,(16) is not considered a neutral observer by numerous opposition groups.) Article 52(c) is also proving contentious in that smaller opposition parties will be at a disadvantage as they have less funding than the larger political blocs and so will hold back campaigning until they know their candidate is eligible to run for the Presidential election.(15)

Voting population not sufficiently informed

In addition to the political wrangling that has been going on since May 1 when Fromayan opened up the floor for debate,(17) Liberia still suffers from poor communication infrastructure. Decades of ineffective government has led to severe infrastructural decay which makes information distribution extremely difficult. The problem is further compounded by the fact that Liberia has high rates of illiteracy. A 2008 census revealed that 75% of a target group of over 3.4 million Liberians were illiterate.(18) A consequence of the poor communication infrastructure coupled with high rates of illiteracy effectively means that the referendum and the consequences thereof have not been appropriately explained to the population.

Regional instability and increased violence

The crisis in neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire has forced thousands of Ivorian refugees to flee to the border regions of Liberia. The UN have been asked to increase security along the shared border regions, owing to the large numbers of refugees.(19) The primary concern about the influx of Ivorians, is the return of alleged Liberian mercenaries used by Cote d'Ivoire's Presidential claimant Laurent Gbagbo. The presence of some 150,000 Ivorian refugees has already changed election dynamic of the region while the presence of several mercenaries have been recorded in refugee camps.(20) There are fears that returning refugees and returning mercenaries could disrupt the polls. Poor communication networks and the fact that not all returning Liberians or fleeing Ivorian's can be scrutinised makes election violence a real possibility in that these groups can easily be mobilised should various stakeholders see fit to do so.

Concluding remarks

The upcoming referendum asks many questions of the NEC which will have to be answered in order to avoid confusion, maintain peace and rebuild the country's democracy. Whether it is wise to conduct such important elections back to back is questionable. Liberia's infrastructure has been severely damaged in the 14 year intermittent civil war and lack of communication is a serious concern to the referendum and eventual general election process. This being said, the national referendum is vitally important to the political process in the country and to healing the wounds of previous self-serving administrations. Liberia is on a long road to recovery with numerous social concerns still hindering its process. Thus far, the election process has been peaceful but as events in Guinea and more recently Cote d'Ivoire have shown, interethnic violence is a real concern in West African elections. If violence is to be averted, the referendum process should be used as a blue print for elections later in the year. The problems that arise during the upcoming vote could potentially be offset by careful planning ahead of the revised November Presidential poll.

NOTES:

(1) Contact Emil Bischoff through Consultancy Africa Intelligence's Election Reflection unit ( electionreflection@consultancyafrica.com ).
(2) Scott Stearns, 'Liberian opposition party challenges electoral commission neutrality', Voice of America, 2 August 2011,
http://www.voanews.com.    
(3) TLC Africa, 'Constitution of the Republic of Liberia', July 2011,
http://www.tlcafrica.com.
(4) James Kpanneh Doe, 'Col says no to the Liberian national referendum', The Liberian Journal, 7 July 2011, 
http://www.theliberianjournal.com.
(5) Liberian Forum, 'Samuel K Doe', 
http://www.liberianforum.com.
(6) Nathan Mulbah, 'Liberia to conduct national referendum ahead of 2011 elections', Shout Africa, 22 September 2010,
http://www.shout-africa.com.
(7) Alphonso Toweh, 'Liberia's Jonhnson-Sirleaf confident of winning new term,' Reuters, 26 July 2011,
http://www.reuters.com.
(8) Alphonso Toweh, 'Liberia's Jonhnson-Sirleaf confident of winning new term,' Reuters, 26 July 2011,
http://www.reuters.com.
(9) Nathan Mulbah, 'Liberia to conduct national referendum ahead of 2011 elections', Shout Africa, 22 September 2010,
http://www.shout-africa.com.
(10) Jean-Mathew Tamba, 'Liberia opposition calls for referendum boycott', Africa Review, 2 August 2011,
http://www.africareview.com.
(11) 'Liberia: Referendum heats up', The Analyst, 5 April 2011. 
(12) Alvin Yelloway, '2011 referendum and Liberia's future', Africa Online, 13 April 2011,
http://frontpageafricaonline.blogspot.com.
(13) 'Liberia: Referendum heats up', The Analyst, 5 April 2011.
(14) James Butty, 'Liberian referendum gets underway Sunday', Voice of America, 29 April 2011,
http://www.voanews.com.
(15) Jean-Mathew Tamba, 'Liberia opposition calls for referendum boycott', Africa Review, 2 August 2011,
http://www.africareview.com.
(16) Scott Stearns, 'Liberian opposition party challenges electoral commission neutrality', Voice of America, 2 August 2011,
http://www.voanews.com.   
(17)  'Liberia: Referendum heats up', The Analyst, 5 April 2011. 
(18) Nathan Mulbah, 'Liberia to conduct national referendum ahead of 2011 elections', Shout Africa, 22 September 2010,
http://www.shout-africa.com
(19) Reuters, 'UN urged to boost Liberia-Ivory border monitoring', 8 July 2011,
http://af.reuters.com.
(20) Scott Stearns, 'Liberia prepares for voting amid security concerns, refugee crisis', Voice of America, 4 August 2011,
http://www.voanews.com.

 

Source : http://www.consultancyafrica.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=821:pre-election-reflection-liberias-2011-constitutional-referendum-&catid=42:election-reflection&Itemid=270

 

African Elections Project to cover Liberia 2011 Referendum

Accra, Aug. 16, GNA - Staff of African Elections Project (AEP) would participate in the coverage of the Liberian Referendum scheduled for August 23.

This would be under its Liberia Elections Incidents Monitoring system project in strategic partnership with Humanity United.

This was contained in a statement issued in Monrovia on Tuesday by Mr Jeremiah Sam of Penplusbytes and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra.

AEP was established in 2008 to enhance the ability of journalists and the mass media to provide more timely and relevant election information and knowledge while undertaking the monitoring of specific and important aspects of governance.

"Liberia's referendum has largely been viewed as a giant stride in the country's democracy since the end of the civil war in 2003. It entails a "yes" or "no", to the four proposed constitutional amendments, including whether the country should hold its general elections in October or November during its elections year," the statement added.

The statement said AEP was working with the Liberia Media Centre, Ushahidi Liberia and other partners to provide comprehensive report from all the 4,457 polling stations across the 1,780 voting centres via an SMS system, a call centre and the use of social media tools such as Twitter, Face Book and You Tube.

It pointed out that in a related pre-referendum activity, AEP had organised a workshop for Liberian journalists, call centre agents and field officers on how to access the use of ICT and the social media in covering elections and ensuring transparency in the whole process.

"We are pleased and proud to be part of such a broad-based effort aimed at entrenching democracy in Liberia. AEP will cover this referendum until the final result are declared and provide a non-partisan coverage while chronicling any referendum-related violence incidence or irregularities", said Mr Kwami Ahiabenu II, African Elections Project Team Leader, when addressing the opening session of the workshop.

"After covering elections in 10 countries, AEP is no doubt a ground breaking project providing an important contributory role in deepening democracy and supporting the creation of open societies through capacity building for the media and other key stakeholders.

"At the same time, it provides a unique online elections information and knowledge platform that will eventually provide transparent access to the electoral processes across the continent," Mr Ahiabenu added.
 
GNA

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

AFRICAN ELECTIONS PROJECT TO COVER LIBERIA REFERENDUM

African Elections Project (AEP) is covering Liberian Referendum scheduled for 23rd of August, 2011 under its Liberia elections incidents monitoring system project www.myliberiawins.org in strategic partnership with Humanity United (http://humanityunited.org/  )

Liberia's referendum has largely been viewed as a giant stride in the country's democracy since the end of the civil war in 2003. A "yes" or "no" to the four (4) proposed constitutional amendments, including whether the country should hold its general elections in October or November during its elections year. 

In addition to its main website www.myliberiawins.org AEP is working with the Liberia Media Centre, Ushahidi Liberia and other partners to provide comprehensive report of happenings and events from all the 4,457 polling places spread across the 1,780 voting precincts via an SMS system,  a Call centre  and  the use of social media tools such as twitter, facebook  and  youtube.

In a related pre-referendum activity, AEP has organized a workshop for Liberian journalists, call centre agents and field officers on how to access the use of ICT and the social media in covering elections and ensuring transparency in the whole process.

"We are pleased and proud to be part of such a broad-based effort aimed at entrenching democracy in Liberia. AEP will cover this referendum until the final result are declared and provide a nonpartisan coverage while chronicling any referendum-related violence incidence or irregularities" said Mr. Kwami Ahiabenu II, African Elections Project Team Leader.

After covering elections in ten countries, African Elections Project is no doubt a ground breaking project providing an important contributory role in deepening democracy and supporting the creation of open societies through capacity building for the media and other key stakeholders, while at the same time providing a unique online elections information and knowledge platform that will eventually provide transparent access to the electoral processes across the continent Ahiabenu added.

African Elections Project was in established 2008 with the vision of enhancing the ability of journalists, citizen journalists and the news media to provide more timely and relevant elections information and knowledge while undertaking monitoring of specific and important aspects of governance.

For more information contact: liberia@africanelectons.org , SMS- International: +2336332011, Follow us on twitter: @liberiaelection  http://twitter.com/liberiaelection

 

Signed

Mike Butscher

Monrovia, Liberia                         

Monrovia 16th August 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

European Federation of Liberia Associations (EFLA) on Liberia 2011 Referendum

 
Sweden Liberia Cooperative 6:42am Aug 10
EFLA PRESS RELEASE: 2011-08-10

The European Federation of Liberia Associations (EFLA) is calling on Liberians not to participate or vote in the so-called August 2011 Constitutional Referendum organized by the National Elections Commission (NEC). If however you have to participate in exercise of your right to vote, then EFLA urges you to VOTE NO on all of the four (4) propositions submitted by the Government of Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

EFLA notes that it is important for Liberians to abstain from taking part or voting in the Referendum for the following reasons:

1. The Referendum is illegitimate. By voting in the referendum we legitimize a flawed and premature process which does not represent the interest of the Liberian people;

2. The Referendum is unconstitutional because all the requirements of Articles 91 & 92 of the Constitution of Liberia have not been met. The constitutional requirements are a) the propositions should be published in the National Gazette and circulated in the mass media throughout the Republic-this was never done; b) the Referendum must be held not sooner than one year after the action of the Legislature(i.e. after the Gazette is published and disseminated) to allow for one full year of mass education and debate-this was never done; c) the government must give reasons (pros and cons) or justification for all the proposed amendments to the constitution; d) the referendum violates Article 7 of the constitution which requires the maximum feasible participation of the Liberian people in all workings of the government but this was never the case because the Liberian people did not participate in the formulation of the so-called four(4) propositions.
The people have not been adequately informed about the legal implications of amending the constitution and there is no sufficient time for the Liberia people to be told why the referendum is essential at this crucial juncture in our national history.


3. The Referendum is illegal because there is no law or statute that authorized the NEC to conduct the referendum. The NEC is established by the Constitution (Art 89) but derives its powers and authority from the Legislature (Art 89) and not the Constitution. Without a statute or enabling Referendum Law, the NEC cannot conduct a legitimate and legal referendum. Absent such law there will be a serious confusion over 1) How to know and determine that the referendum is approved and 2) When should the result of the referendum come into effect? Now, before the 2011 Elections or after the 2011 Elections? And many more serious questions/issues that can only be legally addressed by the Legislature under its law making authority.

4. The Referendum is imposed on the Liberian people and is therefore undemocratic because the government used the top-to-bottom approach instead of the bottom-to -top approach which gives all powers to the people (Art 1) and calls for their involvement and consultation and participation at all levels of the public policy formulation process like the referendum (Art 7). The people could have preferred removing the residency clause entirely; reduce the term of office for elected officials; propose the reduction of presidential powers, election of local officials, etc. and no other time is better than now after a violent conflict when the root causes of the conflict in Liberia is now documented history through the work of the TRC. In a genuine democracy you serve the interests of the people first before yours.

5. The Referendum serves no real national interest, objective or program. It benefits no one except the incumbent president (Proposal #1 Residency Clause); the incumbent judges (Proposal #2 Retirement Age); the NEC itself to buy time because the referendum and elections are too close just as the NEC said previously it was impossible to hold the referendum this year (Proposal #3 Election date moved from October to November) and incumbent Legislators who are unpopular with the people and want to be re-elected by hook or crook (Proposal #4 Simple Majority vote without second round).

6. The Referendum ignores the socio-political history and reality of Liberia where the clamor for participation and majority decision making based on popular consensus have been at the core of root causes of violent conflicts and war in Liberia to overturn minority rule of "so say one, so say all"(Proposal #4). Proposal #4 is the most significant proposal in the referendum not because of anything good but because it seeks to undermine and reverse our democratic progress which began with majority rule and universal adult suffrage for all in Liberia enshrined in the new constitution after the 1890 military coup d'├ętat.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Launch of Elections Reporting Center for Liberia 2011 Elections

African Elections Project www.myliberiawins.org  key Partner Liberia -Liberia Media Centre is launching Elections Reporting Centre on Friday, August 26, 2011 in Monrovia.
The Election Reporting Center will serve as a multi-purpose support center for local journalists covering the 2011 Elections. The Center will provide daily online services for local reporters through the use of ICTs and social media applications. It will also provide monitoring services for media coverage and incidence of violence. The Center is equipped with an E-News Lab, a Call Center, a Monitoring Center and Reporting Minivan.
 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Liberia Elections 2011 daily News Review

Monrovia: 3rd August 2011
14 Days To Expiration: No Presidential Applicant
is a banner headline in the Daily Observer newspaper. The paper reports that, the National Elections Commission (NEC) is alarmed that with less than 14 days to the expiration of the nomination of candidates, it has so far received no application from any of the would be presidential candidates. The process of nomination of candidates, according to the NEC calendar of events commenced on July 20, 2011 and will last up to August 15, 2011. And up to present, none of the presidential candidates have picked up their nomination packages. "Of course, this worries the Commission, because it increases the pressure of NEC to over work. Also, the number of candidates that have so far picked up the packages are very small and insignificant taking into consideration the number of persons contesting for various elective posts," Chairman Fromoyan lamented. If the slow pace of nomination from the 29 political parties continues, the Commission will bear the weight of the pressure at the expiration of August 15, 2011 deadline for the process, the Chairman said. "In an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer yesterday, the NEC Chair disclosed among other things that up to present, and with less than two weeks to the expiration for nomination, the entire process
has remained slow.

As Liberians prepare to vote in their first Post Conflict Referendum, the In Profile Daily reports that, the Campaign To Defeat Referendum Intensifies. The paper writes that,the flag bearer of the National Democratic Coalition (NDC), Dew Mayson has reiterated his call for Liberians to vote NO during the exercise as a signal for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's defeat at the 2011 general and presidential elections.

The Heritage newspaper this morning reports that, the governing Unity Party (UP) has reportedly requested Nimba Senior Senator Prince Y. Johnson to relinquish his presidential ambition and support the second term bid of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The paper in a banner headline... PYJ Will Join Unity Party If...Party Spokesman Declares, reports that,President Johnson Sirleaf, who is seeking re-election, is the Standard Bearer of the UP, while Senator Johnson is the Standard Bearer of the National Union for Democratic Progress (NUDP). The governing UP reportedly made the request at talks between it and the NUDP in a bid to form an alliance in the ensuing elections. When contacted for comments, NUDP spokesman Eric Gbemie confirmed the reports, but said talks are still ongoing between the two political parties regarding the matter.

The New Democrat reports that, Who's Out? UP Begins Primaries. The paper writes that, many politicians who crossed over to use the ruling Unity Party as a train to the legislature have reasons to be anxious as the party yesterday began its primaries, spanning five days, to pick junior
senatorial and Representative candidates. There are reports that the UP stalwarts hopeful of legislative positions frown on the ambition of carpet crossers pushing to be selected at the primaries.

Saying he is not a political contender, Labor Minister Jeremiah Sulonteh yesterday emphasized that since 25 April 2011 he rescinded aspirations for a senatorial seat for Bong County. The New Democrat in a banner story... I Will Not Run, explains that, apress release from the Labor Ministry said Mr. Sulonteh "stepped aside from the senatorial race for Bong County on April 15, 2011, in order to foster unity in both Bong County and the Unity Party". Minister Sulonteh made the clarification Tuesday after this paper reported that he "continues to cling unto his job without reprimand, despite publicly declaring his intention to vie for a senatorial seat in Bong County."


Presidential hopeful, Sen. Prince Johnson, says if he wins the Liberian presidency in October this year, he will give due attention to the survivors and veterans of Liberia's civil war. The Analyst newspaper reports that he did not give details of how he would do that, neither did he say what would the due attention entail, but the former warlord told his Carey Street Ataye Shop audience yesterday, that, he was popular with the Liberian people because he espouses democracy. The paper under the headline... Sen. Johnson Vows To Win Presidency, writes that, the Nimba Senior senator said those who sought refuge on Bushrod Island in Monrovia and in suburban Caldwell would testify to how he fought to protect the innocent civilians who were at the mercy of Charles Taylor's nefarious National Patriotic Front of Liberia or NPFL.

Dark Cloud Hovers Over Unification Party is how theAnalyst newspaperheadlines a story that states that, several partisans of the newly organized Citizen's Unification Party (CUP) have rejected the outcome of the recent Gbarnga Convention. The rejection and the attendant hullabaloo, insiders said, were casting dark clouds over the party's participation in the 2011 presidential and legislative elections. CUP's acting chair, Momolu N. Freeman, told this paper in an interview that over 25 angry Partisans of the party have refuse d to accept the results of the convention, which he said the party's "defectors" organized without consultation with the executive committee.

The United States Ambassador to Liberia Linda Thomas Greenfield has told an organized summit for Liberian women that the United States Government has no interest in any particular candidate in the pending legislative and presidential elections. The Insight newspaper in a banner headline... U.S. Has No Interest in Any Candidate, Our Candidate is Democracy-Ambassador Thomas Greenfield reports the Ambassador as saying, 'What we want for Liberia is peace and stability that is epitomized by peaceful, free and fair elections. As I have said before and I say again, we don't have any candidate-despite beliefs to the contrary," declared Amb. Greenfield.

Liberia Needs Quality not Quantity Candidates (Editorial)
Ahead of the imminent 2011 legislative and presidential elections, political parties are integrating to forge common fronts, solidify their positions and strategies in order to withstand the challenges
that promise to attend the elections. Such consideration is certainly in view of the competitiveness that is anticipated as well as the quality of candidates expected to take Liberia upon the hill top of social, cultural and economic prudence. The merger consideration no doubt bears the basic understanding that in unity there is obviously strength, and in strength success is certainly sure. We hail the merger stagey because it shows that politics is not a one man game, but a collective effort aimed at serving humanity, creating a conducive social and economic environment where harmony and peaceful coexistence will prevail.
Insight

The United Nations Secretary General Special Representative in Liberia (SRSG) Ellen Magaret Loj has stressed the need for all Liberians and its international partners to engage fully in ensuring free and fair elections in the country. The Parrot newspaper in a story... Liberian Asked to Ensure Free and Fair Elections reports her as saying unlike in the 2005 elections when the United Nations and the International Community played a leading role in the electoral process, the 2011 presidential and legislative elections are rightfully the responsibility of Liberians, through the relevant Electoral Management bodies, primarily the National Elections Commission.

FrontPage Africa this morning reports of Things Falling Apart in the CDC party. Sources within the CDC hierarchy confirmed to the paper late Monday night that the situation within the party is spiralling out of control amid strong fear that Weah is on the verge of breaking yet another political marriage this time with Amb. Winston A. Tubman. A previous attempt to merge with the Liberty Party's Charles Brumskine also fell apart amid reports that Weah was offered a lofty payment to shatter what many believed was the only ticket strong enough to defeat the incumbent Unity Party government in this year's presidential race. It all started mid afternoon Monday when confusion erupted on the grounds of the CDC in Congo Town when some partisans, who FPA later gathered were ex-combatants acting under the instruction of Weah led by Mulbah Morlu began pulling down items including mementos and party memorabilia belonging to Doe Sheriff. Reporters, including some from FPA who arrived on the scene were prevented from taking photographs and threatened by CDC supporters. The incident was further dampened by fears within the party hierarchy that Weah has sold out to the ruling Unity Party and was masterminding disruption within the party to dampen its chances in the upcoming presidential elections. Complicating matters are reporst that Doe Sheriff's husband is being accused of being a partisan of the Unity Party. On the party grounds Monday, supporters also showed concerns over multiple media reports that Weah had demanded the resignation of both Doe-Sheriff and Gray.

The National Union for Democratic Progress or NUDP of presidential aspirant Senator Prince Johnson is poised to make a leap to George Weah's Congress for Democratic Change or CDC in what many here say could become a key factor that may bring about a replay of the CDC Vs.
UP scenario experienced in the 2005 elections. The New Dawn has reliably gathered that the opposition party National Union for Democratic Progress until now, Sen. Johnson and his NUDP
have sat in their own little corner on the fence and continue to watch the current wave of broad day and sometimes midnight talks or negotiations between and among various parties for possible alliances before the general elections in October. The paper in a banner headline... The Decider reports that, even the former ruling National Patriotic Party is currently in talks with the CDC and UP, with hopes that is close to securing collaboration with the CDC rather than the ruling Unity Party, taking into account its unfinished business with the incumbent, Madam Johnson Sirleaf and the UP from the 2005 elections.

We conclude our review with an Editorial from the News newspaper. The paper this morning is urging Liberians that... Referendum Boycott Is No Solution (Editorial). The paper explains thatLiberians are expected to hold a national referendum on August 23 that would ultimately determine a new constitutional direction for the state. The referendum comes at the time when the people of Liberia will be going to the polls in the country's second post war elections on October 11. On the day of the referendum, Liberian s will be voting YES or NO for four propositions. They include the ten years residency clause, the tenure for justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia (from 70-75 year),
date for election from October to November, as well as vote by absolute majority. As said, opinions of some opposition political parties and the ruling Unity Party on the referendum are mixed across the broader spectrum on the political landscape. Reason are that some political parties raise sequential and constitutional issues, while others think the process is plaster with manipulations intended to protect the president and few elites in government. Now, there are reports that one of the leading opposition parties, Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), is calling on its members to boycott the pending referendum. The CDC believes that the processes leading to election in October is flawed and unconstitutional. However, opposition politician Prof. Dew Mayson thinks differently from the CDC. He wants Liberians to vote NO on referendum day, because by doing so would main voting against President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. WE believe all of the political parties are stakeholders to this process; therefore, they have the right to express their views on this issues and even seek redress for constitutional interpretation through the high court. However, we do not share the view that boycotting the referendum is the right way to proceed, but to exhaust all legal means to ensure that the referendum is held.


This daily news  review is compiled by African Elections Project (AEP) media monitoring centre at  LMC, Monvrovia, Liberia

Monday, August 1, 2011

Group to Ensure Violence Free Elections in Liberia

As Liberia embraces its second post-conflict presidential and legislative elections, many individuals as well as local and international non-governmental organizations are still ambivalent about the future of the country, which fundamentally depends on the conduct and outcome of the pending elections.

A number of local and international organizations under the banner, Early Warning and Early Responses Working Group (EWERWG) have stepped up efforts aimed at identifying critical conflict sensitive issues, although their work is beyond elections.
The African Elections Project in an interview the lead consultant of the Conflict Early Warning and Early Responses group, Mr. Nathaniel B. Walker, asserted that Liberia is at the cross road and sounded a caveat that the 2011 electoral process should be managed in such a way that it remains violent free.

"We proposed a peaceful resolution of all issues through constructive engagement such as negotiations and dialogues. The court process is there and should be structured to speedily resolve elections related cases".

He called on all Liberians having disagreement with any aspect of the elections law or process to use the path of nonviolence to obtain clarity and answers, something he believes would keep Liberia peaceful during and after the elections process.

According to him, the group has an active membership of 16 including the West Africa Network for Peace-building (WANEP), the Inter-religious Council of Liberia, Norwegian Refugee Council, UNMIL Civil Affairs, Liberia National Police (LNP), Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN), Liberia Democracy Watch, Ushahidi, Youth Crime Watch and Landmine Action, African Elections Project, amongst others.

The Network, according to Mr. Walker is working to ensure that it develops a synergy to make an effective and collective impart through a Humanity Funded Programs on conflict early warning work.

Mr. Walker added that the Network is also collaborating with the National Elections Commission (NEC) to identify potential conflict sensitive issues and make a recommendation to relevant stakeholders.

The group has three clusters including warning cluster which comprises of organizations that are already involved with early warning issues, the technology cluster responsible to receive all and manage information from the field like the Ushahidi system and the response cluster responsible to respond to conflict issues.

AEP