Security Agencies Rehearse Elections Violence Scenarios

A scenario-based multi-agency preparation exercise has kickoff involving the Liberia National Police (LNP), Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), and all security agencies in the country to deal with violent protests, political thuggery, and illegal voters.

The preparation involves seminars, command post exercises, and practical demonstrations of crowd control and dispersal, according to the authority of the Armed Forces of Liberia. 

It is being conducted ahead of the general and presidential elections scheduled for 2023, to promote inter-agency cooperation and interoperability among participating agencies in dealing with crises during internal security operations in Liberia.

The exercise focuses on preparing participating agencies for the safe conduct of the 2023 general elections, particularly in dealing with potential security challenges, including violent protests, political thuggery, arson, cross border movement of illegal voters, and as well as smuggling of drugs and arms.

According to authorities, the seminar phase is to provide a platform for lectures and presentations by representatives of every participating agency in a way that ensures mutual understanding of the roles of all agencies during the response to crises situations in Liberia.

Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Maj. Gen. Prince C. Johnson, III, emphasized the importance of teamwork during violent protests or crises.

Gen. Johnson said the AFL will always be available to support the lead agency, which is the Liberia National Police, in putting protest and crisis situations under control internally along with other agencies.

Deputy Defense Minister for Administration and now acting Minister, T. Olandrus Dickson said the exercise sees the integration of efforts and security agencies working in concert to address security issues that may come out during elections.

“During the exercises, we witnessed coordination taking place and information coming being put in one location and all the agencies represented and appropriate agencies taking incident command,” Mr. Dickson said.

Importantly, he continued, all senior leaders from those agencies who are charged with the authority to make decisions whenever incidents occur will be in a particular location. They will not be in different locations. “We will have these senior leaders who will make decisions immediately.” 

Mr. Dickson said they want to practice more and be able to handle or deal with situations whenever such occurred. During the seminar, a scenario of violent protests was staged but joint security agencies put the situations under control and the media team worked exceedingly to provide the right information to the public amid misinformation on social media regarding these situations.

Also during the exercises, a demonstration involving disenchanted youth from one of the participating parties in the elections was staged, in which the police immediately intervened but later got overwhelmed and called for support from the Armed Forces of Liberia, and the situation was put under control along with support from the Liberia National Fire Service and the Red Cross.