Following the WSR’s successful monitoring and evaluation of the presidential and general elections and run-off in Liberia, African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have adopted WSR as “best practice” and asked for it to be replicated (copied or reproduced) at “all elections in Africa.”
This is a major achievement for the Angie Brooks International Center for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security (ABIC), which is barely two years old. ABIC was founded in March 2009 during the International Women’s Colloquium held in Monrovia in that year. ABIC is headed by Counselor Yvette Chesson Wureh, the establishment coordinator.
The decision to establish ABIC was taken by the women at the Colloquium and by the Council of Women World Leaders as a concrete outcome of the Colloquium. It was during the Colloquium that the ground breaking for the Center took place near the University of Liberia’s Fendall campus.
The “Gender is my Campaign” (GIMAC) at the African Union, earlier this year, on the eve of the AU’s 18th Heads of State Summit in Addis Ababa, adopted the Women’s Situation Room as “best practice” and asked for it to be replicated at all elections in Africa.
During the AU Summit, GIMAC asked President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to be the Chairperson of the Situation Room and she agreed to support its replication. As a result, when Senegal asked for ABIC to come to Senegal and replicate the Situation Room, President Sirleaf endorsed the initiative. Her endorsement was further concretized by a formal message of peace to the Senegalese women at the 1000 Women Peace Rally, the only peace message from a President.
The Women’s Situation Room, of which Counselor Chesson-Wureh is lead coordinator, is a political and objective process that mobilized the women and youth in order to ensure their active participation in peaceful and democratic electoral processes as a peace and security measure in accordance with the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820. It involves electoral stakeholders in consultative engagements while ensuring peace before, during and after elections.
The main objective of the Situation Room is to a) mobilize women to enhance their active participation in non-partisan support of the electoral process; b) advocate and sensitize the stakeholders regarding a peaceful electoral process before, during and after elections; c) take quick actions in order to prevent or mitigate electoral violence; and d) to be a source of independent election observation reports.
The key architects and implementers of the Women’s situation Room project, the women of Liberia, assisted Liberian youth, led by the Liberian National Students Union (LINSU) and the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY) in creating a platform to voice their concerns and grievances through constructive channels. As a result of this intervention, young people were able to adequately express their views without resulting to violence. Civic education and constitutional law classes were provide to the youth to help them understand the legal process.
As part of the Women’s Situation Room, nearly 100 observers (both national and international) were trained by ABIC, the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL) and the Mano River Women Peace Network (MARWOPNET) on the procedures, roles and duties of observers. The Liberian National Police (LNP) provided briefing on the role of the police during the elections and on the preparation of state security during the elections. ABIC also engaged the Liberian media in responsible electoral reporting. ABIC also engaged the children of Liberia, who sent a peace message reflecting their hopes and aspirations for peaceful elections in Liberia.
At one crisis point during the Liberian elections, the Women’s Situation Room invited Counselor Winston Tubman and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to a meeting to help resolve some political issues. But agreed to meet at the Golden Gate Hotel, but at the last minute Cllr. Tubman pulled out. President Sirleaf, however, showed up and held useful conversations with WSR leaders.
One of the key points which WSR leaders raised with the youth during the electoral process was that they should not allow the politicians to get them (the youth) involved in electoral violence. The politicians should first send their children there. Sadly, most of the politicians’ children were far away from Liberia. These included Winston Tubman’s children. During that period, it was learnt that his wife, Necee, had flown to South Africa to attend the First Communion of her grandchild.
The intervention of the Women’s Situation Room in the recent elections in Senegal was a resounding success. They involved the Senegalese women as well as the politicians. Among the visitors to the Situation Room in Dakar was former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who highly commended WSR for their work. Another visitor was the daughter of President Abdoulaye Wade, who same she came not as the President’s daughter but as a woman who appreciated the intervention of African sisters in Senegal’s electoral process and wanted to be a part of it, lending her moral support.
Alas, there was one more highly distinguished visitor to the Situation Room. It was President-elect Macky Sall, who visited the Situation Room shortly after he received the call from President Wade conceding defeat.
The women in the Situation Room were indeed elated.
Counselor Wureh said the intervention of the Women’s Situation Room in the Senegalese electoral process was widely covered in the Senegalese media, with Cllr. Chesson-Wureh and her co-women leaders appearing on Senegalese television practically on a daily basis.