News / Africa

Liberia Prepares for Voting Amid Security Concerns, Refugee Crisis

Multimedia

Audio

Liberia's electoral commission is working to safeguard voting along the border with Ivory Coast, where hundreds of mercenaries from the recent Ivorian political crisis are under arrest and thousands of Ivorian refugees are stretching Liberian social services.

Liberia has two big votes in the next few months, a constitutional referendum and a presidential election.  With campaigning for both contests well under way, Liberia's electoral commission is working to ensure that voting in areas near the Ivorian border will not be disrupted by instability stemming from the Ivorian political crisis.

"Firstly, when we look at the Ivorian refugees, our primary concern will be one of security concern in terms of mercenaries coming over with the hopes of threatening the process," said James Fromayan who chairs Liberia's electoral commission.

Several hundred mercenaries who fought for former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo are now in Liberian internment camps where they are visited by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).  Norra Kero is the ICRC's communication delegate for Liberia.

"We registered them, and we have given them some assistance in terms of food and blankets, and now in the internment camp we are still visiting them and sharing our findings with the authorities," said Kero.

Liberian federal prosecutor Allisious Allison says Ivorians who entered Liberia with weapons were offered the chance to return home, but when they said they would rather go to the Liberian border county of Grand Geddeh, the government decided to keep them locked up, at least until after the election.

"They do not want to go back to Ivory Coast, but instead they want to go to Grand Geddeh," said Allison.  "So you can see the situation.  Our security information that we are getting from around here, it is not healthy for those people to go that route."

The Liberia director for the peace-building group International Alert, Jackson Speare, says the presence of more than 150,000 Ivorian refugees has already changed the electoral dynamic in Liberian border communities.

"You have a lot of people joining an already-fluid situation," Speare noted.  "People can begin to disrupt different campaigning and other things.  People can begin to threaten people.  Crime rates can begin to increase, which will influence the movement of people in the region.  You have that quantity of persons coming in, you know what is going to happen in terms of the cost of living.  So it will influence everything.  It could also influence the elections."

Eddie Jarwolo heads Liberia's National Youth Movement for Transparent Elections.  He says Liberian security forces are overwhelmed by the Ivorian refugees.

"Our immigration system is poor," said Jarwolo.  "Our security network is very poor.  Some of the guys who cross could be combatants from Ivory Coast who come in and we don't have the time to scrutinize the guys.  In terms of election violence, they could easily be mobilized to get involved in the process.  This is a challenge for us."

Voter registration closed before most of the refugees arrived.  So electoral commission chairman Fromayan says he is less concerned about illegal voters than he is with maintaining security around polling stations and safeguarding the results.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid