The Initiator of the Women Situation Room, (WSR), and establishment Coordinator of the Angie Brooks International, (ABIC) Centre, Cllr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh says WSR has received reports from its observers during the October 10 general elections across the country, as well as data received from the public, pointing to some deficiencies.
She says a short code (1010) was given to the public in order to call the WSR’s call centres to report on elections related issues. Speaking to journalists at a press conference on Monday, 16 October at the TM Mall at Mamba Point in Monrovia, Madam Wureh said WSR has received a total of 1086 incidents.
She says 784 of these incidents were National Election Commission (NEC) related, while 302 were security related. She also says the rest were queries and observations.
According to Madam Wureh, NEC related calls were on issues of identification of voters polling places, changing of precinct locations thereby confusing voters, and large number of invalid votes which indicate poor voter education.
She continues that many of the polling precincts were in schools which were inaccessible to the physically challenged and the elderly. She also says late arrival of ballot boxes and voting materials in some places were reported.
She notes that there were overcrowding and long queues at polling places, and late pick up of ballot boxes. The WSR-Liberia also reported cases of violence, which includes frustrated voters who had been standing in queues for a long time, while others seemed to be getting preferential treatment. It claims opposing political parties clashing along the way, youth preventing the elderly from voting, and intimidation of polling staff during and after the counting process.
There were 322 Women Observers with 20 supervisors that were trained by the WSR to coordinate the election in the entire 73 districts across Liberia.
WSR recommends to NEC that lighting shall be in the polling precincts, elections should be considered during the dry season, additional voter’s education, and training of NEC polling staff should be done prior to the implementation of any run-off elections, and a need to alphabetize the voter’s registration book in each polling station so as to eliminate the long time it takes polling staff to locate voters on the Register.
The WSR was established by eminent Liberian Women in 2011, and has extended to several parts of Africa.
By Samuel P. Kamara–Edited by Winston W. Parley