Home Politics Guarantee National Security …Women’s Consortium Urges Government

Guarantee National Security …Women’s Consortium Urges Government

by newsmanager

MONROVIA: Less than a week following the conduct of Tuesday, October 10, 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections, a consortium of grassroot women’s organizations, under the banner: “Project Accountable Safe Space Women’s Accountability Room (PASSWAR), has called on the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), to investigate all incidents of violence and bring the alleged perpetrators to justice in line with the law regardless of political party affiliation.

They also want the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Justice, to put in place measures to ensure peace, stability, and safeguard the security of the country.

The consortium comprises the following organizations: African Women Leadership Network (AWLN), Community Health Initiative (CHI), Kids Educational Engagement Project (KEEP), Organization for Women and Children (ORWOCH) Paramount Young Women Initiative (PAYOWI).

Others are Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL), Women of Positive Actions (WOPA); Sister’s Hand Liberia and the PASS Women’s Accountability Room.

In their joint statement, read by Atty. Minonbeydo N. Joah and Madam Willent Salue, the women’s organizations also called for investigation of alleged elections fraudsters, and give updated information to the public at all stages of the investigation.

They also called on Political Parties to refrain from disseminating misleading or inflammatory election reports on social media concerning the results of the October 10, 2023 polls.

According to them all aggrieved parties should muster the courage to take advantage of the law and ensure that all complaints are filed with the proper authorities.

They also called on the Media to support fact checking and avoid releasing misleading information.

The consortium of grassroots women’s organizations admonished the International Community to announce public sanctions for those who engage in violence before and after elections results are announced.

“We call on all candidates, political parties and their supporters to remain calm and peaceful and to wait for official results from the National Election Commission,” they noted.

The Project Accountable Safe Space Women’s Accountability Room, at the same time, congratulated Liberians for their mass participation in the October 10, 2023, Presidential and Legislative Elections.

“We observe elections were generally peaceful except for a few isolated cases of tension and agitation,” they stated.

The women asserted that with the voting process ended almost in the entire country and the counting process ongoing, alleged incidences of violence and voting irregularities being observed by elections observers, women rights groups, the traditional, and social media must be probed.

They indicated that, 84.4% of their observers witnessed intimidating behaviour by some election poll workers towards the women voters for several various reasons.

They said some reasons provided for the observed behaviour towards these women vary, with election poll workers presuming that they were dishonest about their status as baby mothers or pregnant.
They said other reasons included those special needs individuals took too much of the election’s poll workers s time.

They emphasized that, 87% of the precincts observed, by the consortium of grassroots women’s organizations observers noted that all of the polling staff were not present.

“Reasons given for staff absent at 13% of the polling places observed include that some staff registered for assignment in two places and others opted to take up out of town assignment since it paid better,” they noted.

They further said 63% of the polling places observed had a woman presiding officer while 97% of polling places visited, observers noted that party poll watchers could clearly see the process.

They noted that, at 60.9% of polling places, their observers noted voters’ fingers were checked for prior inking while 80.4% of the polling places visited, observers noted voters’ confusion with identifying their polling center.

They said 68.8% of the polling places observed, voters who arrived or in the lines at 6:00pm were allowed to vote and 25% of the polling places visited, observers noted several challenges associated with the closing of the polls.

They stressed that, one of the major challenges cited for the delays was poor lighting in the polling facilities.

They further indicated that, 60.9% of polling places, their observers noted voters’ fingers were checked for prior inking.
“In Bomi County, a female voter alleged to have been buying votes was slapped by a male voter. They both were arrested by the police,” they said.

According to them, in both Bong County at the Kpakoloyah Public School and Cape mount County, District # 2, at polling place 5 respectively, elderly women complained that they were being harassed by vote buyers.

“We note that there were several incidences of violence occurred before, during, and after elections,” they said.

The two female Civil Society organizations added that their observers also noted that persons purporting to be NEC officials had markings of the NEC.

“Other incidents were also reported from the Administrative Building, Grand Bassa, by our observers which an already checked name place on the FRR,” they said.

They said their observers also noted the absence of queue controllers at observed polling places leading to disorder and in many cases sexual harassment by male voters against female voters.

They then recommended that NEC Conduct training for poll workers and community workers not less than one month to Election Day and ensure that poll workers are knowledgeable of elections guidelines through extensive practice sessions.

They said NEC should ensure that queue controllers are on the line to maintain order and avoid instance of sexual harassment and increase polling stations in accordance with the census report and as per the law.

They urged NEC to continue to engage citizens through the traditional and social media, by giving information to the public and be available when there are calls for clarity.

The consortium of grassroots women’s organizations emphasized that NEC adheres to section 10 of the new elections law by investigating and implementing punitive measures for political parties whose members engage in political violence.

They also want the Monitoring of the media and hold political actors accountable for spreading misinformation about the elections and follow up on cases of alleged irregularities reported on elections day and give updated information to public during press conference.
They called on NEC to ensure separate lines for men and women during subsequent elections.

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