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‘Remain Calm’!-Women Situation Room Cautions Political Parties & Supporters

By Abraham Morris-231886294820- abrahammorrisabrahammorris@gmail.com

The Women Situation Room (WSR) of the Angie Brooks International Center (ABIC) through its Establishment Coordinator, Cllr. Yvette Chesson Wureh, has cautioned standard bearers of political parties and supporters to remain calm and patiently await the collation, tallying and final results by the National Elections Commission (NEC).

Addressing a news conference Monday, at the offices of the Women Situation Room (WSR), in Monrovia, the ABIC Establishment Coordinator said the WSR continues to monitor the counting, tallying and pronouncement of preliminary results.

Therefore, Cllr. Wureh reiterated that the phase of electoral process is as important as the registration, campaign and voting process, which has the propensity to derail the process and cause conflict.

The WSR appreciated the resilience and vigilance of the general public who called to report threats and incidence of violence which Eminent Women of the physical Situation Rooms in Monrovia and Suacoco were able to intervene in a timely manner in collaboration with NEC and the Liberia National Police (LNP).

She pointed out that the WSR is a women’s peace-building mechanism for the mitigation of conflict before, during and after elections in African countries.

According to her, the WSR mobilizes women in collaboration with youth to lobby and advocate stakeholders to support the call for peaceful elections.

She said the WSR is a non-partisan and neutral process that was initiated by the women in Liberia in 2011 with technical support from ABIC for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership, Development, International Peace and Security.

Cllr. Wureh said the WSR rollout a series of activities leading to the setting up of two physical situation rooms.

She said these included the setting up of a mini call center during voter registration; the talking bus which captured issues from communities in hotspots counties, the Youth Peace Torch, the  15,000 Women Peace March for peaceful elections, training for the Yanna Boys followed by the ECOWAS Youth Peace Summit.

As a result of its demonstrated effectiveness in preventing and mitigating election-related violence in several countries in Africa, the WSR was endorsed as best practice by the 2012 AU’s Gender is My Agenda campaign. The UN has also recognised the WSR as best practice in conflict and violence prevention.

The WSR is an initiative that mobilises, harnesses and taps into the expertise and experiences of women to act and mitigate potential conflict, leading to violence that could emerge before, during and after elections.

It empowers women and youth to play an active and direct role in peace and security efforts, and to engage in peace processes and conflict prevention mechanisms in accordance with UNSC resolutions 1325 and 1820.

The initiative was first used during the 2011 elections in Liberia, and has since been successfully replicated in Kenya (2013), Senegal (2012), Sierra Leone (2012), Nigeria (2014) and Uganda (2016), among other countries.

There were also plans to use it in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Togo. The operational approach of the WSR is expected to differ in individual countries, allowing for flexibility to adapt to local conditions and dynamics.

Cllr. Wureh said owing to the several challenges confronted by NEC during these elections, the WSR recommended that provision be made for lighting in the polling places to ensure increase visibility.

She also recommended that a change in the dates of elections should be considered so that elections are held in the dry season thus eliminating the problems during elections in the rainy season, which adversely affect the ability of NEC to distribute ballots materials and staff.

Should there be a run-off declared, the WSR through its Establishment Coordinator recommended that NEC conduct as immediate training of polling staff due to the high percentage of invalid votes (7.2%), which as their observer reported, were due largely to polling staff inking fingers before ballots were deposited as well as inefficiencies.