Liberia-PBO Launches COVID-19 Elections Monitoring, Violence Prevention Platform

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First from left Minister Sirleaf, ECOWAS Ambassador Babatunde O. Ajisomo, and River Gee County Senator Conmany B. Wesseh

Ahead of the Mid-term Senatorial Elections in Liberia, the Peace Building Office (PBO) in partnership with the Government of Liberia with support from its partners, has launched what it terms as COVID-19 Elections Monitoring and Violence Prevention Situation Room (CEMVIP-SRI) in Monrovia.

The launch of the platform is aimed at monitoring, preventing electoral violence and responding to early warning of violence and building a peaceful co-existence among political actors during the Mid-term senatorial elections.

The event, which was launched on Friday, August 21, 2020, brought together civil society organizations, security apparatus, government officials from ministries and agencies, as well as national and international partners, through a zoom meeting in Monrovia.

The platform, according to the PBO, is being divided into three categories including the composition of governance structures and procedures.

According to Eddie Mulbah, Executive Director of the PBO, the situation room will comprise professional individuals of diverse backgrounds — science, political science, peace and security, health, communication, gender and human rights, as well as international relations and diplomacy.

He also named a policy and decision-making room, which comprises personalities of influence in Liberia, people who, according to him, have access and influence over political authorities.  The second component, he said, will deal with the analytical data management system to comprise subject matter experts of various disciplines with backgrounds and experience, and with the abilities to articulate and analyzed and interpret data and policy decision making, while the third is the data recipient and collation room that will also comprise of dedicated individuals monitoring the Liberia early warning and response platform that is linked to the 119 districts in the 15 counties.

Internal Affairs Minister, Varney A. Sirleaf, who served as the chief launcher at the occasion, believes that electoral processes and outcomes are critical to consider as cardinal to peace in Liberia. According to him, it is imperative that actions of political actors and other stakeholders are guided by the code of honor for a peaceful election.

According to the Minister, peaceful elections strengthen early warning mechanisms, which are now in place in the 15 counties. He also said that a peaceful election leads to a peaceful transition of power and, as such, it is important to sustain Liberia’s peace at all times.

He added that the MIA will remain supportive to election monitoring and violence prevention because it strengthens coordination among stakeholders. This, he noted, is particularly for those working for peaceful nonviolent elections outlets.

He recalled that it has been 17 years now since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) in 2003 in Accra, Ghana. “We committed ourselves to peace and fair election outcomes, and that was the reason why we went to Accra 17 years ago to sign the CPA,” said Minister Sirleaf.

“Since the signing of the CPA, Liberians continue to maintain peace and, as such, it must jealously be guarded and protected as we move towards the December 8, 2020 Senatorial elections. So, I want to thank the partners and say that this situation room is hereby officially launched.”

Babatunde Olanrewaju Ajisomo, ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia

During the launch, ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia, Babatunde Olanrewaju Ajisomo, expressed delight in the content of the COVID-19 and election monitoring violence prevention platform launched by the PBO and its partners.

He cautioned policymakers to look at the factors that are responsible for elections violence and do a comparative analysis of other situations to ensure a peaceful environment during the elections.

Ambassador Ajisomo said ECOWAS has been doing a lot in terms of preventing conflict in the region and will continue to do so for the entire sub-region.

He further described the launch of the platform as timely and very crucial to the mid-term elections. “It couldn’t have come at a better time than now.”

He, however, acknowledged the role of women, elders, youth and traditional leaders in each of the counties, as well as the media, as critical to maintaining peace in the country. “Let us ensure that we double check and then we don’t depend on anything that we hear on social media,” he warned.

The ECOWAS Ambassador also stressed the issue of coordination as an important need to properly ensure that keeping the peace is not left with the security sector or the government.

He further stressed the need for women and children to be protected under the law during this pandemic. “We want to also see how they are going to participate effectively during these elections and as well as the pending referendum.”

Meanwhile, he noted that a lot of people don’t even know what the referendum is all about, adding that they do not understand the content and know its importance.”

He stressed the need for more information dissemination, sensitizing people through various platforms, something he further committed the ECOWAS radio to do.  “We are going to dedicate our ECOWAS Radio to educate Liberians on these constitutional rules, free of charge,” he pledged.

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