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Liberia: Moving Forward?

UNLocK Liberia Update Report 4 February - May 2011

THE FUND FOR PEACE


Copyright Š 2011 The Fund for Peace All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written consent from The Fund for Peace. The Fund for Peace 1720 I Street NW 7th Floor Washington, D.C. 20006 T: +1 202 223 7940 F: +1 202 223 7947 www.fundforpeace.org The Fund for Peace Publication CR-11-22-UL (11-08D) Circulation: PUBLIC

Produced with the assistance of Liberia Democracy Watch

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Contents

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his report was compiled by Colston Reid under the supervision of Nate Haken and Joelle Burbank at The Fund for Peace and in consultation with Liberia Democracy Watch. It is part of a series of reports that integrate data and perspectives from

populations in conflict-affected zones into CAST, the FfP’s conflict assessment early warning methodology. The project, the Early Warning and State Building Initiative, is made possible with funding from Carnegie Corporation of New York,

Humanity United, and National Endowment for Democracy. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of The Fund for Peace.

Preparing for the Election Cycle

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Findings and Methodology

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Analysis by Select Indicators

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County-level Analysis

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Looking Ahead

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About Liberia Democracy Watch

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About The Fund for Peace

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Preparing for the Election Cycle

Photo: Eric Kanalstein/UN

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or the second time since the end of their devastating civil war, Liberian voters will go to the polls to democratically elect their president. The general election, to be held on October 11, 2011 will decide the presidency, all seats in the House of Representatives, warning network from February-May 2011. Organized by county, incidents are categorized by Conflict Assessment System Tool (CAST) indicators and reflect the pressures currently weighing on Liberia, as viewed by participating civil society members. Concerns over availability of public services, violent crime, and state legitimacy top the list. This report is intended to provide a snapshot of pressures on the government and society in the lead up to the elections and highlight some issues that are likely to feature in the fall election campaigns.

and half the seats in the Senate. Incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf contends that this election could be the turning point for Liberian Democracy. She explains that, “For us, it has to be a good election, a free and fair election, an election that will enable us to build upon the progress and gains we have all achieved...� However her optimism is not shared by everyone on the ground. As reported by local civil society organizations in the UNLocK Early Warning Network, concerns over election transparency have already begun to materialize. Reports reveal staunch divisions within the three major political parties, allegations of bribery against President Sirleaf, and a lack of faith in the neutrality and competence of the National Election Commission (NEC). These coupled with a judiciary that is perceived to be corrupt, weak public services and rampant crime put Liberia in a precarious position going into the second democratic election since the end of their 14 year civil war.

Findings The network received reports from UNLocK Liberia participants over a four month period (February 1, 2011-May 31, 2011), revealing political, social and economic pressures at the local and county levels. This report contains a summary of civil society field reports, by CAST indicator, with maps identifying the counties about which reports were submitted. Those counties are indicated in red. A red background should not be taken to mean that those counties are in a worse position that those that are not highlighted. The lack of a red background merely indicates that UNLocK generated no data from those

This report, the fifth in a series of publications on Liberia, compiles incidents submitted by Liberian civil society organizations participating in the UNLocK Liberia early

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Preparing for the Election Cycle

The Indicators

areas. The red counties should be interpreted as a measure of civil society engagement and used as a barometer for addressing the problems unique to that region.

The 12 CAST indicators for which data is sought include social, economic, and political/military pressures on the state:

Broken down by indicator and county, there were 209 total reports for this time period. Based on civil society reporting, Human Rights was the most pressing concern of the 12 CAST indicators (53 reports), followed by Public Services (44 reports), Demographic Pressure (38 reports), State Legitimacy (20 reports), Security Apparatus (13 reports), Factionalized Elites (12 reports), Refugee/IDPs (9 reports), Group Grievance (8 reports), Economic Decline (6 reports) and Uneven Development and External Intervention (2 reports each).

Social

Refugees or Displaced Persons Group Grievance Human Flight/Brain Drain

Economic

Uneven Development Economy

Geographically, the highest number of reports were about issues in Lofa County (67), followed by Montserrado County (51), Grand Bassa County (22), Bong County (15) and Bomi County (14). The remaining 11 counties were the subject of between zero and seven reports for the specified period. Although the disproportionate number of reports from Lofa County was mainly the result of an UNLocK workshop that was held in Voinjama in April, it does allow for a deeper analysis of the pressures facing that part of the country. It is important to note that while this report reflects incidents of conflict and instability it is not meant to act as a comprehensive tally. Rather it is a reflection of civil society participation in Liberia and the challenges that participating organizations and individuals chose to highlight.

Legitimacy of the State Public Services

Political

Human Rights Security Apparatus Factionalized Elites External Intervention

Since the UNLocK Early Warning System was established in 2008 participants have been submitting incident reports to a password protected database organized by date, location and indicator. These incident reports are then compiled to generate an image of the conflict landscape in Liberia which is then used to anticipate and respond to the major pressures which could lead to conflict. In the short term this information acts as a warning; allowing people to avoid potential conflict zones. More broadly, this information allows government and civil society to utilize conflict sensitive approaches to development and policy. As of this publication over 800 incident reports had been filed representing participation from at least 80 civil society organizations.

Methodology From March 2010-May 2011 the Fund for Peace conducted six conflict assessment workshops in partnership with Liberian Democracy Watch. In Bong, Bomi, Grand Bassa, Grand Gedeh and Lofa Counties as well as Monrovia, individuals and civil society organizations were trained in a conflict assessment methodology utilizing FfP’s Conflict Assessment System Tool (CAST) framework. Adapted for relevance to Liberia’s local conflict landscape, CAST equips participants with the tools to assess, anticipate, and prevent violent conflict.

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Demographic Pressures

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Analysis by Select Indicators

Number of Reports by Indicator

External Intervention

Factionalized Elites

Security Apparatus

Human Rights and Rule of Law

Public Services

State Legitimacy

Economic Pressures

Uneven Economic Development

Human Flight and Brain Drain

Group Grievance

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Refugees and IDPs

Demographic Pressures

60

40

20

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Analysis by Select Indicators

Reported Demographic Pressures •

A heavy storm in early February left over 200 people homeless in Lofa (County 8) when damage from heavy rains and flooding rendered their homes uninhabitable. Rain storms in mid March in Montserrado (County 11) caused extensive damage to the Booker Washington Institute.

Erosion has become a concern in Grand Bassa (County 4), particularly in and around Buchanan. It has left many along the coastline homeless and threatens infrastructure in the town of Finati.

Drug abuse continues to be a problem. Incidents were reported in four of the seven counties that submitted reports for demographic pressures. Most detailed the use of marijuana by minors.

8 3 5

2 1

11 4

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UNLocK pressures counties. disasters pressure.

Liberia received 38 reports of demographic for the February-May 2011 period from nine With 15 reports spanning six counties, natural were by far the most reported demographic

Reported Group Grievance Pressures •

In Lofa County Mandingo and Lorma clans refuse to trade with one another following a dispute between a Lorma man and a Mandingo woman. In Bong County over 400 Mandingos claimed they were wrongly barred from registering to vote in the upcoming presidential election.

Non-Muslims in Salayea attempted to shut down the Muslim Conference over complains that the services were too loud.

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The Group Grievance indicator received eight reports from Lofa (County 8) and Bong (County 2). Many of the reports expressed grievances from or about the Mandingo ethnic group.

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Analysis by Select Indicators

Reported Pressures on State Legitimacy 2011. The majority of the reports came from Montserrado (County 11), followed by Lofa (County 8), Bong (County 2), and Grand Bassa (County 4).

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Police corruption was reported in four of the six counties which submitted reports for state legitimacy. For example, in Lofa County there were reports that police held prisoners without trial and only released them after receiving a bribe. This has enormous consequences for indigent prisoners who cannot offer a bribe and can be held indefinitely.

Head of the Liberia Democratic Institute claims that election law in the country is too weak to ensure a fair and transparent presidential election. The National Election Commission has filed complaints against both the incumbent and opposition parties for illegal campaign activities to include taking bribes.

Reports from 4 counties illustrate deficiencies in education. Reports detailed teacher shortages, inadequate facilities, overcrowding, and in certain districts a complete absence of schools. Other reports dealt with the rising cost of higher education and the need to increase enrolment in primary, secondary, and higher education.

Infrastructure was another prominent complaint within the public services indicator. Poor road conditions and in many cases a complete lack of roads were a prominent issue for residents of Lofa, Grand Bassa, and Bomi counties. Lack of access to clean water was the dominant complaint in Sinoe, Nimba, and Bomi counties.

Inadequate health care facilities were a primary concern for the residents of Grand Bassa County. Respondents complained of poor hospital treatment, a shortage of doctors and nurses, and in many areas no medical facilities at all. The lack of access to health care was emphasized as contributing to high maternal mortality rates.

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There were 20 reports focusing on State Legitimacy. Most concerned police corruption and concerns over the transparency of the upcoming presidential election in October

Reported Pressures on Public Services 8

5 2 1

12

11 9 4

6

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With 44 reports, the indicator for public services was the second most reported for the February-May 2011 period. Problems with public services were reported in Bong (County 2), Bomi (County 1), Nimba (County 12), and Sinoe (County 15); with the bulk of the reports coming from Grand Bassa (County 4), Lofa (County 8), and Montserrado (County 11). They mostly concerned inadequate educational facilities and underdeveloped infrastructure.

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Analysis by Select Indicators

Reported Pressures on Human Rights •

Murder accounted for 15 out of the 53 reports detailing human rights abuses, while assault and rape comprised an additional 18. Montserrado County reported much higher incidents of both than the six other counties that reported human rights abuses.

There were incidents of kidnapping and human trafficking in all counties from which reports on human rights were received. In Lofa County an Imam was caught with 43 children in the back of a truck, all of whom he claimed were being taken for religious study. In Grand Bassa County it was reported that children were taken from their parents with the promise of education but were then forced to work.

There were reports in Bomi County of young girls being forced to join the Sande Society; a group which practices female genital mutilation.

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2 1 11

12

9 4

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With 53 reports, Human Rights was the most reported indicator for the February-May 2011 period. Reports were received about incidents in Montserrado (County 11), Bomi (County 1), Lofa (County 8), Grand Bassa (County 4), Nimba (County 12), Bong (County 2), Margibi (County 9), and River Gee (County 7). Assault and murder were by far the most reported human rights abuses.

Reported Pressures on the Security Apparatus

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Members of the Liberian National Police were accused of using excessive force in multiple reports, to include beating a man for disorderly conduct.

Rebels from Cote d’Ivoire have caused disruptions in Nimba and Grand Gedeh. While predominantly using these areas for staging rebel activities in Cote d’Ivoire, some have been arrested for weapons trafficking.

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Thirteen reports were received from four counties concerning Liberia’s security apparatus. Murder and police brutality where common themes across Montserrado (County 11), Maryland (County 10), Nimba (County 12), and Grand Gedeh (County 6).

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Analysis by Select Indicators

Reported Pressures from Factionalized Elites

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Twelve reports focuses on Factionalized Elites, most of them from Montserrado (County 11), and all focusing on the politics surrounding the upcoming presidential election. Internal divisions within the National Union for Democratic Progress was the subject of six reports. Attempts to remove Vice Presidential candidate Senator Abel Massalay from the ticket have revealed split loyalties within the party and inhibited its ability to function.

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County-Level Analysis

Number of Reports by County 80

60

40

20

National Sinoe River Gee River Cess Nimba Montserrado Maryland Margibi Lofa Grand Kru Grand Gedeh Grand Cape Mount Grand Bassa Gbarpolu Bong

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Bomi

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County Level Analysis

Lofa County •

Some hand pumps reportedly ran dry in Voinjama, making it difficult for residents to access clean water and sparking competition among residents for use of the remaining pumps.

Zorzor In Zorzor ethnic tensions and possible trafficking of children were reported.

Located in the northern most point of Liberia, Lofa County is the country’s fourth most populous region. Spanning six districts, Lofa County’s primary challenges include homelessness, infrastructure development, violent crime, police corruption and tribal competition. With 67 out of the total 209 reports, Lofa County represents the most incidents reported from a single county for UNLocK Liberia’s February-May 2011 period. This is a marked increase from the number of reports received from Lofa County in the previous period and is mostly the result of an UNLocK workshop held in Voinjama in April, in which many of the reports were collected. Although the spike in reporting does not necessarily signal an increase in the pressures facing Lofa, it does allow for a more in-depth analysis of events in that county.

Tensions between the Lorma and Mandingo groups, which are a problem throughout Lofa County, were the subject of multiple reports from Zorzor District.

Multiple reports were received about an alleged incident of child trafficking in Zorzor, in which approximately 40 children were found in the back of a truck, with the driver claiming they were being taken for Islamic study. The driver was taken into custody.

Quardu-Gboni In Quardu-Gboni concerns infrastructure were reported.

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public

services

and

Participants complained about the lack of a high school in Quardu-Gboni District.

Quardu-Bondi was hit by the same storm which devastated Voinjama in early February and 16 homes were reportedly washed away.

Foya Foya reported concerns with crime and infrastructure.

One event that stood out was a devastating storm that hit Lofa County in early February. Leaving over 200 people dead and many more homeless, the storm accounted for nine separate incident reports on its own.

A school teacher was murdered, demonstrations by his students.

Residents of the town of Ngeiga in Foya District complained to UNMIL that they are desperately in need of viable roadways.

Vionjama

Kolahun

In Voinjama homelessness and dilapidated infrastructure were reported.

Land conflict, possibly with an ethnic dimension, was reported in Kolahun.

At the epicenter of the devastating storm which hit Lofa County in early February Voinjama is left to combat an ever growing homeless population. Already high due to demolition associated with road construction, the storm left many more homes uninhabitable.

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prompting

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There reportedly was a land use dispute between the people of the Wulukoha clan and residents of Johnny Town, Voinjama.

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County Level Analysis

Montserrado County and were grouped within the state legitimacy and public services indicators. Violent crime was also an area of concern.

Montserrado County represents 51 out of the 209 reports gathered by UNLocK for the February-May 201l period, making Montserrado the county with the second highest number of incident reports.

Monrovia

Reports illustrate that there are rifts forming in the top national parties. The National Union for Democratic Progress is deeply divided over their vice presidential candidate Senator Abel Massalay.

The Movement for Progressive Change reportedly no longer trusts the transparency of the National Elections Commission and has demanded its members step down.

The Alliance for Peace and Democracy is split over the decision to support Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s bid for a second term in the upcoming presidential elections to be held in October. Key resignations have occurred as a result of the decision.

Reports of murder came from all over the district including the founder and operator of the Great Wall Hotel in Monrovia.

Monrovia represented the vast majority of incident reports coming out of Montserrado County. The bulk of incident reports coming out of Monrovia concerned national politics

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Looking Ahead

Photo: Eric Kanalstein/UN

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till recovering from 14 years of civil war that left over 200,000 Liberians dead and destroyed effective government institutions, the free and fair election of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2005 represented a victory for Liberia after decades of authoritarian the polls there is some trepidation about the National Election Commission’s ability to fairly execute the election. Allegations of strong connections between the NEC and President Sirleaf’s Unity Party have cast doubt on the commission’s ability to fairly execute the election. One UNLocK incident report revealed that leadership within the Movement for Democratic Change in Liberia has called for the immediate resignation of the NEC chairman over concerns that the group lacks transparency and is unable to enforce election law.

rule and civil unrest. Six years later Liberian voters are hoping that their second national election will be marked with the same peace and order which brought Sirleaf to power in 2005. Africa’s first female president enjoys strong international support; however her political future at home remains unclear. Dedicating her first term in office to post civil war reconstruction, Sirleaf’s administration can claim several victories including road construction which now links the major population centers together and contract negotiations with extractive industries. Yet, for voters progress cannot come fast enough. Failures of services provided by the government were among the top reported issues that UNLocK Liberia received for the February-May 2011 period. A lack of schools, health care facilities and roadways were the primary complaints. Liberia faces external challenges as well, with large number of refugees from the recent violence in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire still residing in the country and generating increased tensions in border areas.

For Liberians the campaign season has just begun and it promises to be eventful. With three major parties represented and every seat in the House of Representatives in contention this election will come down to which candidates Liberian voters believe will bring them change the fastest. For this to occur, vast improvements will be needed in the state’s public services, security apparatus, and ability to uphold the rule of law. Liberia must leave behind the legacy of illegitimate and ineffective government if it hopes to mark this election as the true turning point in Liberian democracy.

With less than three months to go before Liberian voters head to

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About Liberia Democracy Watch

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iberia Democracy Watch was established in late 1996 in the build up to the 1997 elections in Liberia. The organization was founded by a group of university graduates envisioned a society devoid of socio-political abuses, corruption and the weaning FOCUS and many other local organizations. Between 1997 and 2005, Liberia was wrought with both socio-political and economic abuses necessitating the shift to human rights and related issues.

respect for the rule of law. As part of its first engagement, LDW was a founding member of the elections observatory group: Liberia Elections Observers Network (LEON), a collection of local elections observers group funded by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) which comprised the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC),

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About The Fund for Peace

Conflict Early Warning and Assessment • • • • •

The Failed States Index Content Analysis Country Profiles Universal Network of Local Knowledge (UNLocK) Military Training

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Transnational Threats

Sustainable Development, Sustainable Security

• • •

• • •

Threat Convergence Prevention of Identity-Based Violence Identifying Hotspots for Political Violence and Radicalization

• •

Better Business for Better Communities Human Rights & Business Roundtable Voluntary Principles on Security & Human Rights Peace and Stability Operations Private Security and Human Rights

he Fund for Peace is an independent, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that works to prevent violent conflict and promote sustainable security. international organizations, the military, nongovernmental organizations, academics, journalists, civil society networks, and the private sector.

We promote sustainable security through research, training and education, engagement of civil society, building bridges across diverse sectors, and developing innovative technologies and tools for policy makers.

The Fund for Peace offers a wide range of initiatives focused on our central objective: to promote sustainable security and the ability of a state to solve its own problems peacefully without an external military or administrative presence. Our programs fall into three primary thematic areas:

A leader in the conflict assessment and early warning field, the Fund for Peace focuses on the problems of weak and failing states. Our objective is to create practical tools and approaches for conflict mitigation that are useful to decision-makers.

• Conflict Early Warning and Assessment; • Transnational Threats; and • Sustainable Development, Sustainable Security.

The Fund for Peace adopts a holistic approach to the issues stemming from weak and failing states. We work at both the grassroots level with civil society actors and at policy levels with key decision makers. We have worked in over 50 countries with a wide range of partners in all sectors: governments,

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CR-11-22-UL


Liberia: Moving Forward?