Liberia: Elections Preparedness Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF Operation n° MDRLR003 Update n° 1



Operation progress and request for time extension

The DREF operation of CHF 85,027 was lunched on 1 September to support LNRCS in training and of mobilization of volunteers to be deployed and organization of awareness campaign in response to potential violence during elections. LNRCS has deployed 500 volunteers in pre-identified hotspots across 15 chapters of the country to deliver first aid, psychosocial support, and safer access for people in need.

Although elections took place on 10 October, run-off of the presidential elections was announced by the NEC as no political party met the constitutional requirement of absolute majority. Therefore, these volunteers remain vigilant until the elections are over, and results are announced and continue their services wherever needs arise.

As part of the preparedness, volunteers are provided with first-aid kits and relevant non-food items for distribution among affected people. Although most of the items are in place, procurement of some items is in progress. In addition, mass awareness campaign such as radio show, peach match, etc. needed to continue for maintaining peace and harmony among people.

While elections process is yet to be concluded, the LNRCS intends to have its presence through volunteer network in dealing with anticipated pre-and post-result violence. Therefore, it seeks time extension of the DREF operation until 31 December 2017.

The expenditure stands at CHF 60,395 which is 72% of the funding.

Description of the disaster

Liberia went to the polls on October 10, 2017. Seventy-three (73) representative seats and a President and VicePresident will be voted for by over 2 million registered voters across the country. There are 22 registered political parties’ presidential candidates and 98 representative candidates set to contest the representative seats. The National Election Commission (NEC) qualified a total of 1,026 individuals to contest the 2017 elections and released the final figure of 2,183,683 from the 2017 Voter Registration Exercise.

The NEC officially declared campaign opened at 12:01 am on Monday 31 July, 2017 and closed at 11:59 pm on Sunday, 8 October, 2017.

Experience from previous elections indicate that there was no deployment of ambulances service in areas outside Monrovia and there were numerous first aid and emergency medical referral cases. Reference the role the LNRCS has played, it remains cardinal that the deployment of ambulances be considered in 2017 in the six-high risk and vote-rich counties of Montserrado, Nimba, Bong, Bassa, Margibi, and Bomi. The number of hotspots and polling centers has increased significantly and with the proliferation of political parties and their candidates, it is eminent that there will be serious needs for emergency transfer of casualties Liberians went to the polls on October 10, 2017 to elect members of the House of Representatives and a President and Vice-President respectively. This is the first elections run and managed by Liberians since the end of the 14 years of civil disorder in 2003. Local and International monitors graded the process as being generally peaceful, although there were reported cases of lapses and irregularities.

According to NEC, 1,553,348 valid votes were cast in the presidential election during the first round. The Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) candidate, George Weah had 38.4% while the Unity Party’s (UP) Joseph Boakai had 28.8% at the first ballot. A run-off was announced by the NEC slated for 7 November 2017 between the CDC and UP on grounds that no political party met the constitutional requirement of an absolute majority or 50% plus 1 vote to be declared a winner.

Barely seven days to the conduct of the presidential run-off in line with constitutional provisions, the ruling Unity Party has declared a total lack of confidence in the Chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC) and the NEC’s Capacity to conduct the runoff on 7 November, 2017.

The Board of Commissioners (BOC) of the Liberian National Election Commission (NEC) has on Friday 24 November afternoon (Constitutional deadline), ruled on the appeal of the opposition Liberty Party (LP) and ruling Unity Party (UP) against the NEC Hearing officer.

The BoC rejected the appeal, meaning that Liberia can now proceed for the runoff of the presidential election, and that there will be no rerun for the House of Representatives election. It also means that the stay order of the Supreme Court is now over.

NEC should announce soon the date of the runoff (on 12 December, or at most by the 19 December). NEC should also be able to start with the organization of the runoff.

However, there remains an option of an appeal for LP and UP to the Supreme Court against the decision of the BoC within a timeframe of 7 days. This is the most likely path that the Parties will take and should this materialize it would further delay the organization of the runoff, in case the Supreme Court give a new stay order. The runoff would therefore only take place in January 2018 with possibility of new petitions and appeals after the runoff result. This could plunge the country in a difficult constitutional situation if there is not a confirmed elect-president on 15 January (constitutional date for the investiture of the successor of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf).

Meanwhile, a Writ of Prohibition proffered by the Liberty Party was considered by the Supreme Court, thereby scheduling a hearing on Thursday, 2 November, 2017. The Supreme Court’s final ruling on the complaints filed in by the Liberty Party is expected to be announced on Friday 3 November. The court put a temporary halt to the NEC activities until the hearing is conducted. Following the halting of the runoff elections and all activities, NEC conducted hearing of the Liberty Party’s complaints and subsequently ruled its on 25 November, 2017. The Liberty Party has taken a final appeal to the Supreme Court.
An ECOWAS mediation team made up of the ECOWAS Chair, and the President of Guinea together with the AU, met with the key contenders to try and resolve the political impasse.