Description of the disaster
On 10 October 2017, Liberia had the task of organising the first election run and managed by Liberians since the end of the 14 years of Civil War in 2003. As Liberia had never, before these elections, witnessed a smooth transition of democratic governance from one president to another, the Liberian National Red Cross Society requested for support from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)’s Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) for an Elections Preparedness and Response operations, given the country’s history with elections.
On 1 September 2017, the DREF granted CHF 85,027 to support Liberia National Red Cross Society (LNRCS) in training and mobilizing volunteers for their deployment in response to potential violence during the 2017 elections.
Indeed, Liberians went to the polls on 10 October 2017. Seventy-three (73) representative seats and a President and Vice President were to be voted for by over 2 million registered voters across the country.
There were twenty-two (22) registered political parties’ presidential candidates and ninety-eight (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.
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 7th November 2017 between the CDC and UP on grounds that no political party met the constitutional requirement of an absolute majority or 50% plus one (1) vote to be declared a winner.
Emergency Plan of Action Final Report Liberia: 2017 Elections Preparedness and Response Volunteer posted at a Polling Centre in Monrovia ©LNRCS
On Thursday, 30 November 2017, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling into complaints of election fraud and massive irregularities filed by the Liberty Party. According to the Court, the Liberty Party and its collaborators did not have sufficient evidence to warrant stopping the run-off elections as they proposed to do. The Court ruled that run-off elections duly take place in line with the electoral laws and the Constitution of Liberia. Several prescriptions were mandated by the Court including the total clean-up of the voters roll among many things.
The NEC announced the final date for Run-off election between the Unity Party and the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) to be on 26 December 2017. This pronouncement created a huge debate in the political environment of the country. The ruling Unity party filed a bill of information to the Supreme Court asking for the removal of the Head of NEC and the suspension of the scheduled run-off on December 26.
After the first round of the elections, the LNRCS requested for a one month timeframe extension, which led to the revision of the timeframe (see Operations Update No 1) to allow volunteer presence on the ground until elections were completed as pre and post elections violence were anticipated. In all, this DREF operation lasted 4 months, from 01 September to 31 December 2017.
The major donors and partners of the DREF include the Red Cross Societies and governments of Australia, Austria,
Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the USA, as well as DG ECHO, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), AECID, the Medtronic and Zurich Foundations and other corporate and private donors. The IFRC, on behalf of the Liberia National Red Cross Society, would like to extend many thanks to all partners for their generous contributions.