The ECC’s electoral campaign update contains comprehensive information on the observation of campaign events/rallies held by political parties or candidates in the counties and districts over a two-week period (August 20–September 2, 2023). It also includes observation of information disseminated by the media including social media. For the first two weeks of the campaign, ECC received 72 reports about events and rallies related to the campaign.
During the third and fourth weeks of the campaign, observers witnessed the conduct of 68 campaign events/rallies held by different political parties and independent candidates. Observers noted that 38 of the 68 campaign events observed had the presence of security personnel. Observers also reported the presence of unofficial security/militants during the campaign events of parties and candidates. 23 of 68 reports showed the use of unofficial security during campaigns.
At the county and district levels, Civic and Voter Education (CVE) activities were implemented. 51 of 73 observers noted a CVE event that was organized by the NEC, CSOs, political parties, and the media.
ECC observers observed the following critical incidents:
Influence of Traditional and Religious Leaders on Campaign: Observers reported that traditional and religious leaders were seen publicly campaigning for parties and candidates. For instance, the Paramount Chief of Foya, electoral district 01, and the district commissioner were reportedly campaigning for the CDC-led government, The observer noted that these local leaders were canvasing for votes in communities and urging people to vote for President Weah and the representative of the CDC contesting in that district.
Destruction of campaigns Flyers or banners: Observers reported the widespread destruction and defacing of campaign materials including posters and billboards of political parties and candidates. These acts particularly targeted women candidates from Bong, Gbarpolu and Grand Bassa Counties. The perpetrators, however, remain unknown. While the destruction and defacing of campaign materials are not categorized as electoral offenses; however, they undermine the ability of citizens to know the candidates and to make informed decisions on whom to vote for.
Gifts and Cash distribution: Observers reported that political parties and independent candidates were seen giving out money or gifts to voters during the campaign period. In Gbarpolu, Grand Gedeh, Lofa, and Montserrado Counties, observers observed occasions where candidates presented motorcycles and solar lights as gifts to communities, as well as cash donations. The donation of cash and gifts by politicians to influence the choice of voters undermines the principle of competitive elections.
Observers noted that the propagation of inflammatory language has reduced compared to the start of the campaign period. 6 of 19 observers reported hearing the use of inflammatory language during the period observed and this primarily through social media.
Observers reported that generally, voters and members of political parties continue to doubt the NEC’s ability to hold a free and fair election. According to observers, citizens think that the Board of Commissioners of NEC is compromised due to the President’s influence in appointing them. This perception is reinforced by this report from an observer in Maryland County:
- Individuals who were contracted by NEC to conduct the voter registration were seen wearing the t-shirts and caps of political parties. Residents and opposition leaders in the county expressed this concern at one of the usual Abdul Salam Forum.
Fake News: Observers reported that face book carried information that the Unity Party (UP) presidential candidate was gravely ill and had traveled abroad for treatment. Officials of the UP refuted this report, and corroborated by an interview conducted with the presidential candidate by a foreign journalist.
Political parties and candidates have adhered to the campaign schedules submitted to the NEC. This action reinforced by calls from domestic election observation groups including the ECC and international partners have contributed to a reduction in the level of campaign related violence across the country.
The ECC proposes the following recommendations:
- That the NEC ensures that political parties and candidates comply with the laws regulating campaign financing.
- That political parties and candidates publicly condemn the act of destroying and defacing of campaign materials.
- That political parties in their campaign speeches call on their supporters to conduct themselves peacefully throughout the electoral process in adherence to the Farmington River Declaration.
Observation & Deployment Methodology:
ECC deployed 92 trained long-term observers for the campaign period. District observers are observing campaign events and rallies conducted by political parties and candidates throughout the 73 electoral districts, while county coordinators are closely watching the conduct of the media during the campaign period. Observers were asked to observe campaign and media activities and send in bi-weekly reports, including critical incidents as they occur. ECC observation of media and campaign events are guided by a thorough checklist and all observation reports are submitted through coded text messages to the ECC’s reporting system for verification and analysis.
About the ECC
The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) is Liberia’s largest domestic election observation network with diverse competencies, experiences, and expertise in democracy, elections, and governance established since 2010. ECC’s members include the Center for Democratic Governance (CDG); Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP); Center for
Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding (CECPAP); Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD); Naymote Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE-PADD); West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP), and the Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL). The ECC election observation effort is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). “The contents of this update are the responsibility of the ECC and does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.”
You can download a copy of the Campaign observation report here: ECC Campaign Update Two_2023_Final