The Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform congratulates every Liberian for the peaceful conduct of the elections and as the National Elections Commission (NEC) has begun the announcement of the results, admonishes every Liberian to remain calm until the final result is announced.
MONROVIA – The Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform (CSO Platform) has provided a statement on its preliminary findings during its observation of the conduct of the October 10, 2023, presidential and legislative elections.
According to a statement issued today through the CSO Platform National Secretary General, Mr. Adama K. Dempster the observations focus primarily on the adherence to human rights protocols and procedures stipulated by the National Elections Commission (NEC). Adding that the preliminary statement looks at findings on the general conduct of polls around the country.
Accordingly, the statement said that with support from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and Peace Building Fund (PBO) CSO Platform deployed 75 human rights monitors who were duly accredited by the National Elections Commission (NEC) across the 15 counties of Liberia.
“As of Thursday, October 12, 2023, CSO Platform monitors have observed the polls on October 10 including the counting, and transportation of electoral materials to the different Electoral Magistrate offices, and are currently monitoring the tallying of votes at the various magisterial offices across the country,” the statement said.
The statement continued: “On the overall, CSO Platform commends the people of Liberia for the massive turnout and peaceful manner in which they participated in the polls. However, CSO Platform observed several incidents that violated international human rights standards as it relates to the conduct of elections.” Below are the CSO Platform’s key findings
KEY FINDINGS ON ELECTIONS DAY
CSO Platform monitors observed that polls opened late in several places across the country on e-day October 10, 2023. However, at the places opening late, CSO Platform monitors observed that the NEC staff at these centers did not compensate for the delays. Notably, this was observed at the Peace Island Community School Precinct 30251 polling place 6.
CSO Platform Observers at some precinct centers across the country noted that disabled people, the visually impaired, elderly, baby mothers, and pregnant women were not given special preference by allowing them to vote immediately when they entered the precinct. Tactile ballot guides were absent at some polling places like AGM Bible College Precinct Code 30343 polling place two in District 17, Montserrado County, the Benz Town Foundation Precinct Code 24137, District 1, Margibi County, Precinct Code 21026 Foya Town Hall District 1, Lofa County, Precinct Code 06157 Lelekpayeh Public School and Precinct Code 06158 NV Massaquoi in District 2, Bong County.
Accessibility of polling precincts to people living with disability prevented many disabled people from exercising their franchise on October 10. Due to the massive turn out and usage narrow gates to these centers which resulted to pushing and shoving, many disabled people turned away because they were unable to fight their way through. Some abled bodied people also turned away due to the same issue. Our observers noted these at Nathan E. Gibson, Precinct Code 30128, District 4 and the Reformed International Christian Ministry, Precinct Code 30025 District 10, Montserrado County which was also inaccessible to people with disability.
Queue controls at many precincts observed were largely poor as the queues were disorganized and chaotic. Voters were seen pushing and shoving to gain entry to these centers. Most of the centers were not adequately staffed. This also caused delays. CSO Platform also observed that some of NEC staff at the various precincts were not adequately trained to handle voting materials from some of the centers visited which delayed and got some voter in-patient like Precinct Code 30310 Helen Teah Memorial Christian Institute Polling place 4 District 6 Montserrado County. Our observers think that this could be attributed to pressure of the massive turn-out.
The huge presence of PSU officers at precinct code 06006, Gbah Public School in District 1, Bomi County intimidated many voters and created panic among voters, especially women; people with disability and the elderly during the voting.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
The Civil Society Human Rights Advocacy Platform of Liberia (CSO Platform) sees October 10, 2023 elections generally as good and commends the NEC for delivering a peaceful election. CSO Platform wants to call on political parties and Liberians in general to continue to exercise patience as the National Elections Commission (NEC) announces progressive preliminary results from the just ended electoral process.
In the same vein, CSO Platform admonishes the NEC to speedily release these elections results as the delay is causing anxiety amongst political actors and the Liberian people.