The update outlines the findings of the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) observation of the primaries of political parties and coalitions from May 11 to July 5 and the candidate nomination process from June 14 to July 14, 2023. ECC deployed 34 LTOs- 19 county coordinators and 15 electoral district observers across the 15 counties to observe the primaries of political parties and coalitions and 2 observers at the Candidate Nomination Center This ECC update covers the parties’ primaries observed and the candidate nomination process.
Overall, political party primaries observed were peacefully conducted, with few instances of tension or disagreement reported. In addition, observers reported that the primaries observed were well organized and organizers appeared to be knowledgeable about the conduct of the events. It was also noted that a low percentage of women candidates participated in the primary events. ECC observers’ reports show a lower percentage of women who won the primaries.
Only six of the 35 registered political parties and coalition conducted primaries that were observed by the ECC. They included the All-Liberian Coalition Party (ALCOP), Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), Liberian People’s Party (LPP), Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR), Unity Party (UP), and Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), have held primaries or endorsement events, observed by the ECC. While the ECC notes that the CPP and UP organized endorsement events rather than the expected primary election, results from other parties and coalitions that held primary elections show that the principal mode of candidate selection was by white ballot, meaning the candidates ran unopposed.
The ECC initiated several attempts in April and May to obtain the calendars of political parties’ primaries. However, no information on the dates, locations, and times of these events was provided to the ECC. The ECC also informed its 34-trained LTOs in every county to communicate with the local structures of parties for updates on when they will hold primaries events, in addition to sending out correspondence and making phone calls. Only a few of the 35 registered parties and coalitions—including the Liberian People’s Party (LPP) and Movement for One Liberia (MOL)—were prompt in delivering updates on primaries. Others, such as the Rainbow Alliance, gave the ECC the directive to look up the publication dates. Despite these efforts, there were no notices of primaries published by the remaining registered parties.
Political parties and coalitions are required to post a notice of all conventions or—per the NEC’s Regulations pertaining to Parties and Coalitions. Additionally, the law requires parties to keep local offices in the county or constituency where they intend to run candidates. The difficulty of obtaining information meant that only six political parties and coalitions had their primaries observed by the ECC, despite all of its efforts to keep primary dates and schedules consistent.
It is unknown if a primary election was held by all political parties or coalitions that submitted a list of candidates to the NEC. Many of the political groups who took part in the 2023-candidate nomination process only provided a list of pre-selected candidates to the National Election Commission (NEC), not necessarily selected n through democratic means.
ECC observers observed 47 events organized by the aforementioned political parties and coalitions. Two of 47 events observed by the ECC in Nimba and Bong were endorsements organized by the CPP and UP in Nimba and Bong respectively. The ECC observers reported the candidates announced on these parties’ tickets were pre-determined based on consensus. However, 45 of these were primary events organized by other parties and observed by the ECC as follows:
- 2 of 45 primary events conducted in June and
- 43 of 45 primary events conducted in July
Political parties’ primary events were reported to be generally peaceful and orderly. The ECC observers noted that the events were held at the venues disclosed in advance for 33 of the 45 primaries. According to reports from observers, political party officials in charge of the primary events had lists of attendees/delegates and documents outlining the guidelines and procedures to conduct the events. Furthermore, the candidates, delegates, and those responsible for organizing f the primaries seemed to understand the rules and procedures governing the events, and most people attending the primary had to present identification.
- 40 of 44 reports show that the primaries events were well organized;
- 39 of 45 reports show that there was a list of persons who attended the events;
- 36 of 45 reports show that there were documents detailing the rules and procedures for the conduct of the primary;
- 41 of 45 reports show that party officials of the primary event appeared to understand the procedures for the primary;
- 40 of 45 reports show that the candidates appeared to understand the procedures for the primary events;
- 38 of 45 reports show that the attendees appeared to understand the procedures of the primary events;
Approximately, 24% of women made up the total number of attendees/delegates at observed primary events, based on 33 reports.
On average, an ECC observer witnessed the conduct of two primary events at a single venue organized by parties, lasting between 4 to 8 hours, based on 42 reports.
Overall, observed party primaries were peacefully conducted with few instances of tension or cancellation of the event due to disagreements among attendees. ECC observers noted that at 11 of 44 events, attendees did not have to show any form of identification to attend the primary event. There was also a low deployment of national security personnel reported. 29 of 44 primary reports show the absence of national security.
ECC observers also reported 12 instances of the use of government vehicles and 20 instances of the use of public buildings and facilities for the primary events.
At the primary events observed by ECC, only 19 of the 119 candidates who sought
nomination were women. According to observers’ reports, 10 of the 19 women candidates in the primaries emerged as winners. The ECC observers were instructed to report separately on each district primary, because a party primary event may encompass one or more districts.
According to reports from observers, the means of electing candidates varied by party and election district. However, ECC notes that most of the candidates elected were by “white ballot,” meaning they ran unopposed.
|Method by which candidates were elected||Reports|
|Secret Ballot||8 of 77 reports|
|Public Ballot||10 of 77 reports|
|Show of Hands||2 of 77 reports|
|Standing in queues||0 of 77 reports|
|Voice vote||0 of 77 reports|
|White Ballot||56 of 77 reports|
|No election held||0 of 77 reports|
|Others||0 of 77 reports|
The results of the primaries were generally accepted; the ECC observer in Margibi only reported a single instance of a disputed election result at the primary event organized by the CDC. The dissatisfied candidate promised to file a complaint.
ECC received reports of critical incidents about parties’ primaries as follows:
LPP Primary Event
Event Cancellation and Venue conflict: The ECC observers who showed up to observe the LPP primary in Nimba, electoral district #6 reported that the event was cancelled because the candidate did not show up. Additionally, the primary event for electoral district #3 was cancelled and rescheduled, because members of the CDC were meeting at the same venue, the Duoplay City Hall. According to the observer, the parties had no argument because of the venue conflict.
The Coalition for Democratic Change, comprising nine political parties including the CDC, NPP, LPDP, CDA, PLP, RDC, ULD, UPP and MOVEE conducted the highest number of primaries, in all 15 counties. Generally, the CDC primaries observed by the ECC were reported to be peaceful with few instances of contention and event cancellation as follows:
Venue Change: The CDC primaries in Bomi District #1 were held at the winning candidate’s residence in contrast to the initial announcement that the event will occur at the party’s office. While observers and party delegates were awaiting the Primary Committee, they received reports that the event was already ongoing at the candidate’s residence. This caused dissatisfaction among some of the delegates who described the process as disorganized. Despite this, there was no violence or tension reported.
- ECC received reports that the primary for electoral district #1, Sinoe, was canceled because officials from the party’s office in Monrovia instructed the county chairperson to stop the event based on a complaint filed by one of the contesting candidates that the chairperson has been campaigning for his opponent.
- The primary for Sinoe, electoral district #3, was also canceled on July 2, 2023, because five of the coalition members were dissatisfied with the selection of delegates. According to the ECC observer report, coalition members were initially informed to submit a list of their delegates who would vote during the elections, but later realized the submitted list had been altered. This caused a serious disagreement resulting in the cancellation of the event. The county chairperson postponed the event to the following day during which time the candidate was pre-determined-resulting to no election held.
- In electoral district 1, Grand Gedeh, the ECC observer reported an incident involving two male and female candidates who should have contested the primaries. According to the observer’s account, the female candidate withdrew at the last minute on grounds that the opponent was not a party member and that she was not aware of the procedures and the selection of delegates for the primary event. Supporters of the female candidates insisted that the event be canceled, resulting in tension. State securities later calmed the situation and the female candidate’s opponent, was declared the winner.
Candidate Nomination process
From the start of the nomination process, the ECC stationed 2 observers at the NEC’s candidate nomination center. ECC observers were trained on how to report about the process using a comprehensive checklist. The NEC allowed the ECC observer to visit the nomination center, but they were not allowed to sit and watch as applications were reviewed or scrutinized. The routine updates provided by the NEC regarding the collection and submission of candidates’ application materials thus make up the majority of ECC’s observation findings. However, the ECC observer reported that the process was peacefully conducted and that the NEC officials arrived on time each day to conduct nomination. The ECC observers also noted the presence of other observer groups, representatives of the media and party supporters.
The update provided by the NEC did not include information about the names of political parties or coalitions that have picked up or submitted applications; The ECC was also not able to access information regarding rejected candidates. According to the NEC, each political party received package for 90 aspirants in the following category:
- 73 for Electoral district representatives’ seat,
- 15 for senatorial seats,
- 1 for Presidential Seat and,
- 1 for Vice Presidential Seat.
The data published by the NEC as of June 30, 2023, reflect the following:
|Category||Number of packages picked up||Number ofpackages returned.|
The summary published by the NEC as of July 6, 2023 reflect the following gender breakdown:
|Position||Female||Male||Total||% Female||Female||Male||Total||% Female||Total|
|House of Representatives||12||51||63||
While the above chart reflects a significant number of low female applications, which could lead to low female participation as candidates, the ECC has yet to receive an update from the NEC regarding political parties whose list did not respect the 30% gender threshold. Registered parties and coalitions, this year, signed a MoU with the NEC committing themselves to ensuring that tickets submitted for nomination reflect the 30% gender threshold. 8 days to the climax of the nomination process, nomination update reveals 19.5% of women that could end up as candidates on parties’ tickets and 15.7% as independent candidates.
The ECC offers the following recommendations:
- Political parties need to strengthen their internal democratic process to ensure that the candidates they submit to the NEC are democratically elected and avoid having party executives pre-determine candidates.
- The NEC should monitor the primaries of parties and coalitions to ensure that democratic principles are upheld and internal procedures follow the applicable election laws.
- Political parties should work to ensure a greater representation of women in primaries and on party tickets in support of the 30% gender threshold set in the New Elections Law.
- To give observers broader access so they can independently monitor the conduct of the process, the NEC should reform the processes surrounding the candidate nomination exercise when conducting future elections.
ECC Observation & Deployment Methodology
For the observation of parties’ primaries, ECC deployed 34-trained LTOs-19 county coordinators and 15 electoral district observers in all 15 counties to monitor the conduct of primaries whenever they took place. Since the deployment of LTOs, the ECC has observed primaries and endorsement events organized by the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), All-Liberian Coalition Party (ALCOP), Liberian People’s Party (LPP), Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR), Liberian People’s Party (LPP) and the Unity Party (UP). Finally, the ECC deployed two observers at the NEC Candidate Nomination Center to observe the process. All ECC observers’ reports were submitted using a comprehensive checklist and sent to the ECC reporting system for verification and analysis.
|Party/Coalition||Number of events observed by ECC||Location|
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.”
Please read a copy of the ECC’s report here: ECC Primaries & Nomination Update-Final.