The Peace-building Office-Liberia Democracy Watch One Day Work Session On the State of the Electoral Environment in Liberia PA Rib House Conference Room Lapkazee, Sinkor (FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, OCTOBER 5, 2011) Summary Report: The Peacebuilding Office (PBO) in collaboration with the Liberia Democracy watch (LDW) on October 5, 2011 conducted a one-day work session to examine the state of the electoral environment within the context of Conflict Early Warning and the promotion of Peace. At the one-day round table meeting which was attended by thirty five persons representing twenty three civil society organizations, several recommendations were brought to the table which accordingly should be disseminated as a means of reducing the risk of post-elections violence. The recommendations were addressed to five key players in the ongoing electoral process. Those include: the Liberian media, Political Parties, National Election Commission (NEC), the Security Sector and the General Public. The recommendations are as follow: Recommendations to the National Elections Commission (NEC) • • • • •
Ensure the recruitment of credible and qualified persons as election poll workers. Do all within its power and mandate to ensure the elections are free, fair, credible and transparent. Intensify the dissemination of civic and voter education messages. Ensure the logistical arrangements are made and are adequate for the delivery and collection of ballot papers and boxes in a timely manner. Back-up logistical plans should be made well in advance to avoid delay in the delivery and collection of election material, especially ballot papers.
Recommendations to Political Parties •
Document and formally submit any complaints before and during the elections to the National Election Commission (NEC) and international observers, rather than taking to the air waves to spread hate or violent messages to their supporters. Encourage their supporters to show respect for law enforcement officers and poll workers during the election process.
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Encourage their members to use non-violent means to resolve disputes and misinformation during and after the election. This could include filing formal complaints to part leadership who will in turn take the necessary courses of action. Have representatives at each polling center that take active part in ballot counting so as to avoid perceptions of cheating. Inter-party dialogue should be practiced at the polling centers by party representatives on misinformation or other issues before leaving the center. Political parties should be open to consultation to resolve issues emanating from the election process to foster peace. Political parties should respect the outcome of the elections following validation from local and international observers.
Recommendations to the Security Sector • • • • •
Investigate all threats of instability from political parties and supporters during and after elections. Remain impartial and protect life and property during and after the conduct of election. Armed security should be present at all polling centers before voting begins and protect all election materials and personnel. Properly investigate all reports of election related attacks on individuals. Be present at all entry points on the borders to detect infiltration of contraband, etc.
Recommendations to the Media • • • • • •
The media should become better aware of its power and responsibility in keeping the peace. Media institutions should channel short messages explaining voting procedures and facts about the elections. Media institutions should be fair, objective and avoid publishing hate messages. The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) should admonish its member to stick to its code of ethics and conduct. Journalists should not only report on the negative aspects and failures of the National Election Commission (NEC) but also the achievements of NEC and other positive things. Journalists should engage in conflict sensitive reporting prior and after the electionresults, explaining clearly what provisional and unofficial results mean.
Recommendations to the General Public • • •
The general public should not draw conclusions on the basis of partial results until the final results are announced. Voters should follow the polling proceedings to avoid violence. The general public should avoid the use of narcotic drugs and alcohol during the election period.
Then general public should encourage their political leaders to use the constitutional path to address any grievances arising from the elections and reject any calls by leaders to pursue a violent path as a result of issues arising from the election process.
Nat Walker National Early Warning Consultant/Lead facilitator on behalf of the PBO and LDW partnership
List of organizations in attendance 1. Liberia Peace Building Office (PBO) 2. Liberia Democracy Watch (LDW) 3. Citizens Bureau for Development and Productivity (CIBDAP) 4. National Human Rights Centre of Liberia (NHRCL) 5. Foundation for International Dignity (FIND) 6. Liberia Democratic Institute (LDI) 7. Liberia National NGOs Network (LINNK) 8. Global Alliance for Peace and Sustainability (GAPs-Liberia) 9. Liberia National Student Union (LINSU) 10. Humanitarian Dialogue Centre (HD-Centre) 11. Center for Democratic Empowerment (CEDE) 12. LandMine Action 13. Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESH) 14. Democracy Frontline International (DFI) 15. Youth Crime Watch 16. Inter Religious Council of Liberia (IRCL) 17. Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL) 18. Peace Building Resource Center (PBRC) 19. Liberia Media Center (LMC) 20. Human Rights and Protection Forum (HRPF) 21. Trust Africa (TA) 22. AGENDA 23. USHAHIDI-Liberia