Thursday, October 13, 2011

Liberia Elections : Second Run Likely As Nec Announces First Batch of Results

Early provisional results from National Elections Commission(NEC) today 13th October 2011 puts ruling Unity Party (UP) candidate -President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in the lead with 44.5% and while the main opposition party Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) candidate Winston Tubman at 26.6%.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Liberians Defy Rains to Vote in General Elections

Thousands of Liberians are bracing showers and rains across the country this morning to vote in a closely contested general elections. As early as 6:00 am this morning long queues had started forming ahead of polls opening at 8:00am with some voters having spent the night at polling stations.

Despite the heavy rains being reported in Montserrado, Bomi and Lofa, voters are not detered and are still in queues waiting to exercise their franchise

At the Vision Academy polling station on 1st Street Jallah Town in Monrovia, queues started forming as early as 4am. According to Inspector Thomas Cooper of the Liberia National Police (LNP), stationed at that polling precinct, "most people got out early to avoid a rush later as they think it will rain in the afternoon" he added that there are political party polling agents in all the polling centers under his watch and the voting process is well organized by the National Elections Commission (NEC). He says the security personnel will vote after everyone has left the queue.

John Toe 21, who queued since 4am and the first voter at the precinct says "I am here to be part of the history, where Liberians are free to change our leader using our thumb instead of the gun. I voted for CDC because I want Ellen out."

Mercy Mulbah 37, who was in the queue in the same precinct says she will vote for the Unity Party of President Sirleaf "why change a good thing? Am here to give my full support to the president in appreciation of the peace we are enjoying in Liberia."

At the University of Liberia polling center the story is not different as people started queuing long before the polls opened.

According to Willametta Telleoyan the Polling Officer at New Jerusalem Church polling center. They have enough voting materials for all the registered voters in their polling center and believes no one will be denied to exercise their franchise.

NEC officials were present and ready for the voting process. Most polling centers had officials of political parties present as well as Liberia National Police providing security.

About 1.8 eligible voters are expected to vote at 1,780 polling precincts across 19 electoral magistrates, to elect a president out of 16 presidential candidates with their running mates. In addition, there are 99 senatorial candidates contesting for 15 seats , while there are 793 candidates contesting for 73 seats in the House of Representatives.

Full results for the presidential candidates are expected to be announced on October 26, 2011 according to the National Election Commission (NEC) Chairman, James Fromayan.


The Elections Coordinating Committee, (ECC) Initial Statement on Liberia 2011 General Elections

Press Statement

Monrovia October 11, 2011-The Elections Coordinating Committee, (ECC) has commended the level of enthusiasm and spirit that characterize the ongoing general elections in Liberia.

ECC observed that despite heavy rains on the morning of elections, turnout is encouraging and the process is orderly and peaceful.

The group noticed that polls opened on time and materials were available at polling centers visited.

The Elections observation body also commends political party representatives, local and international observers for making their presence felt at polling centers.

According to the ECC, security presence remains visible and the level of priority accorded people with special conditions such as the disable, elderly and pregnant women is commendable.

ECC intimated that the level of cooperation from all parties in the process including voters demonstrates a strong commitment to ensuring that the general aspirations of citizens are  guaranteed through the outcome of the elections.

The group however notes there are few challenges that, if not addressed, could undermine the gains made so far in ensuring a credible and transparent process.

ECC observed some cases of congested polling places and dark voting rooms which could compromise the secret ballot system.

The ECC also notes that the slow pace in the conduct of the polls is hampering the processing of voters thus leading to long queues.

In some cases, the ECC said, some party agents were disallowed on grounds they did not have party identification cards and in other cases the voting rooms were too small to accommodate large number of party agents. The ECC said these situations could discourage many voters from continuing the process.

Meanwhile the ECC calls on the NEC to ensure that corrective measures are taken to address the issues of slow pace at poling centers.

The ECC on the other hand encourages voters to remain patient and remain in the queues until the end of voting.

ECC is a consortium of over thirty civil society organizations with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI).

The ECC seeks to promote free, fair and credible elections in Liberia.


 Oscar Bloh


Friday, October 7, 2011

Did Nobel Committee Award Liberia's Sirleaf to Help Her Win Reelection?

For all the good in this year's Nobel Peace Prize trio of recipients -- its affirmation of the growing global leadership of woman, its acknowledgment that neither peace nor democracy comes without their full support and participation, its deeply convincing suggestion that the efforts of peace in 2010 may have been due more to women than men -- the name Ellen Johnson Sirleaf seemed to draw mostly sighs from the academics and journalists who cover West Africa. "Most common complaint of Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia is she spends all her time pleasing the West and not enough building things at home," reported journalist Elizabeth Dickinson. Yale professor Chris Blattman wrote on his blog, "I can't shake the feeling that she spent more time getting feted internationally, and running a U.S. book tour, than [on] the big issues at home."

Sirleaf, the president of Liberia since 2006, is not exactly a controversial figure, but she's not the Dalai Lama either, and her inclusion among today's three Nobel Peace Prize winners might have as much to do with Liberia's domestic and international politics as about the transforming role of female leadership in the developing world. "Shocked response in Monrovia to Johnson Sirleaf's Nobel prize, there are serious misgivings about Ma Ellen in Liberia," UK Independent report Daniel Howden
tweeted from the Liberian capital, noting Sirleaf's "murky" record during that country's bloody civil war and reporting "thousands of opposition supporters" rallying against the prize. A local told him, "[The International] Community put fine flowers atop the grave but there are dead bones underneath."

The prize, of course, has gone to less-than-saintly characters before: Mikhail Gorbachev, Yasser Arafat, Nelson Mandela, and Henry Kissinger, to name just a few of the leaders who achieved acts of great peace as well as great violence. But does Sirleaf really fit on this list? She did help bring Liberia out of war, her 2005 election saw the highest rate of female participation ever recorded in Africa, and she's made
slow but real work at rebuilding her country, one of West Africa's great hopes before war tore it apart. Still, there have been a number of peace-builders in Liberia. Blattman, considering whether Sirlead has been "a force for peace," answered with a tepid, "Yes and no, but mostly yes." University of Massachusetts professor Michael Keating wrote, "It was actually Leymah Gbowee, a co-recipient of this year's Peace Prize, who did all the heavy lifting of peacebuilding while Charles Taylor was still in power." So why not limit the prize to Gbowee, a prominent activist whose efforts to end Liberia's civil war were chronicled in the film Pray the Devil Back to Hell? Why add Sirleaf?

Well, Sirleaf is up for re-election. In four days. And her prospects are
looking awfully shaky. In Liberia and in the West, there seems to be a growing consensus that the Nobel committee was not unaware of this timing. "I want her to win the election so I'm glad but the timing is strange," a Liberian government official told Howden. "Happy for Sirleaf, but the Nobel comes *4 days* before the election??" asked Todd Moss of the Center for Global Development. Monrovia-based American venture capitalist Matt Jones tweeted, "Sirleaf's Nobel feeds hugely in2 the conspiracy that her 2005 election & 2011 re-election r determined by foreign gov'ts."

Conspiracy theories aside, it's natural to wonder if the Nobel committee was hoping to play some role in the election. Not to fix the results, exactly, but to throw their weight behind their preferred candidate in an effort to remind Liberians why they elected Sirleaf in 2005. It would be a bit reminiscent of their 2009 recipient, Barack Obama, a decision that was widely viewed as more about nudging him toward certain policies than about rewarding past behavior.

Even if Liberia had national polling, it would be unreliable and incomplete. But election-watchers tend to describe Sirleaf's reelection as uncertain. And her loss could have serious ramifications for the country and the region. Her leading opponent is Harvard-educated lawyer William Tubman, whose real electoral support comes from his running mate, George Weah. A football star who came close to winning in 2005, Weah answered then-criticism about his fitness for the job by, in the years since, enrolling at Florida's DeVry University.

But the real concern is not for the lackluster Tubman or running mate Weah, the Sarah Palin of Liberia. It's for a less prominent candidate named Prince Johnson, a former warlord who has left a long and bloody trail across Liberia. Johnson has close ties to fellow warlord Charles Taylor, who is responsible for much of West Africa's worst violence. Taylor is currently on trial at The Hague for war crimes, but that hasn't sapped
his alarming popularity back home in Liberia. Alpha Sesay, who monitored the trial for the Open Society Justice Initiative, told's Robbie Corey-Boulet that Taylor's verdict "could go either way."

Next week's vote could lead to a runoff in November. If that happens, and if Taylor wins his trial and comes home to throw his considerable popularity behind Johnson, Liberia could see a return to the days of
child soldiers and chaos. That's probably not an especially likely outcome, but neither is it unforeseeable. Even if Sirleaf lost to Tubman, the instability and resentments that comes with so many African political transitions could provide an opening for Johnson, Taylor, or another Taylor-backed warlord to seize power. Probably the best way to ensure continued peace in Liberia, even if not exactly prosperity, would be for Sirleaf to win a second term.

This thinking informs much of the Western world's involvement in the politics of Sub-Saharan Africa. Rwandan President Paul Kagame has an abysmal human rights record that seems to get worse all the time, for example, but the U.S. and other Western powers continue to back him because, as diplomatic officials say privately, urging a political transition would too dangerously risk another division along sectarian lines that could lead to renewed war. Isn't that the lesser of two evils? Maybe, maybe not -- that's one of the questions that makes great power diplomacy in the developing world, and in Africa in particular, so difficult. But it would be an odd game for the Nobel committee to be playing.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Technology to play a key role in the coverage of Liberia 2011 General Elections

As Liberians go to the polls on 11 October 2011 to select a new president, members of senate and house of representatives, African Election Project (AEP) is providing leadership in the use of information and communication technologies(ICT) to cover this landmark elections under its Liberia Incidence Monitoring Platform" project

The ICT based incidence Monitoring platform will monitor  incidents of violence, irregularities and human rights abuses, spanning the period of pre-elections, during elections and post elections, thereby contributing to building peace and entrenching democracy in Liberia. Also the project is designed to facilitate the work of journalists and citizen journalists by actively using ICT tools in disseminating election information and knowledge thereby stimulating a vibrant online and offline dialogue between the media and civil society through forums on elections issues with the ultimate objective of promoting free and fair elections in Liberia.

Liberia's upcoming election has largely been viewed as a test of the willingness of Liberians to fully commit to democracy and the deepening of good governance in the country after the end of a 14 year civil war which ended in 2003.


According to African Elections Project Director, Jerry Sam, "the use of ICT during this election coverage will bring about transparency in the whole electoral process, ensure the timely release of electoral news to citizens residing in Liberia and in the Diaspora, issue alerts to the relevant institutions to prevent potential incidence of violence and to ensure credibility in the final outcome of the elections." 


He added that, a modern fully equipped Call Centre is in place to enable citizens report elections violence incident in additions to SMS reporting system via short-code 2011. In order to coordinate information transmission from elections observers throughout the country, a group of field officers have been deployed to play this role. The project will also make use of social media tools such as twitter, facebook  and youtube to reach out to online audience. Other tools to be deployed include cutting-edge call center software and a news database software which are designed to keep track of the elections activities as it happens.


African Elections Project in Liberian which covered the recently held Liberia referendum is   coordinated by the International Institute of ICT Journalist (Penplusbytes) with strategic and financial support from Humanity United ( working hand in hand with key partners including ushahidi Liberia and Liberia Media Centre (LMC)




Editor's note

African Elections Project (AEP)  @africanelection

AEP was established in 2008 to cover elections using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) across the continent. AEP have successfully covered elections in Botswana, Namibia, Ghana, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Mauritania, Mozambique, Malawi, Togo and Niger.


Humanity United  @HUtweets

Humanity United is a philanthropic organization committed to building peace and advancing human freedom. We lead, support, and collaborate with a broad network of efforts, ideas, and organizations that share our vision of a world free of conflict and injustice.