Liberians voted today for the presidency as well as all seats in the House of Representatives and half of the seats in the Senate. African Elections Project has set up a Ushahidi-based platform to monitor incidents of violence and irregularities.
The African Elections Project was established in 2008 with the vision of enhancing the ability of journalists, citizen journalists and the news media to report and monitor elections.
There is also a Facebook group called Liberia Elections 2011 Media Monitoring Group:
Designed to discuss media coverage of the elections based on media monitoring results and alerts of on media compliance to code of ethics, journalism standards and conflict sensitive elections reporting.
Analysts, activists and political observers have been discussing Liberian general election in the blogosphere. Dr. Fred P.M. van der Kraaij looks at President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's main competitor:
Sirleaf’s main competitor in the race to the Executive Mansion also is a Harvard graduate. The 70 year old Winston A. Tubman is a politician of Americo-Liberian descent. He earned a degree from Harvard Law School in 1966, then established his own law firm in Liberia. He also has extensive United Nations experience, most recently as the Secretary-General’s representative and head of the United Nations Political Office for Somalia, from 2002 to 2005. He belongs to one of Liberia’s most influential families, the name Tubman is well known to all Liberians. Winston Tubman’s uncle was William V.S. Tubman, Liberia’s longest ruling president (1944-1971). Winston Tubman served as Minister of Justice under dictator Samuel Doe and in 2005 unsuccessfully ran for president on the ticket of Samuel Doe’s National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL). In the October 11 elections he is the presidential candidate of George Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change (CDC).
The New Dispensation blog claims that Sirleaf will not be able to serve beyond 2013 because of medical reasons:
As the country goes to the polls next Tuesday, “The New Dispensation” was privileged to receive authentic report of the medical condition of the 73 year old Liberian leader that the President who is seeking another six year term was long diagnosed with cancer and recent medical check up indicates the cancer will prevent her from serving beyond 2013.
A family source who pleads for straight confidentiality to conceal their identity revealed this to this outlet that the President cancer illness was a long held family secret hidden from the public but recent medical examination the President underwent about a year ago came with a dismal report which has put the family on the edge as the report indicates the cancer will reach at a full blown and critical mass and by 2013, the cancer will incapacitate the President and eventually pass on.
The same blog says that the opposition decided to campaign on the streets of Liberia because President Johnson-Sirleaf refused them to use public facilities:
The party says they are forced to hold their final campaign rally on the streets to close the campaign season after the Unity Party led government of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first and only female President and a Harvard trained economist refused them the use of public facilities for their rally. Party officials say the Liberian government refused them the use of the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex and the Antoinette Tubman Stadium.
The CDC complains that the Unity Party government of President Sirleaf concocted a ploy to deny and refuse the party the use of public facilities in violation of the constitution and election laws of Liberia under the deception that the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex and Antoinette Tubman Stadium were previously booked by other institutions for unspecified programs, insisting no date was available on the calendar despite the many flexibility and options the party opted for to adjust to any date before the elections but instead, the Liberian government refused their options and adjustment
Chris Blattman discusses President Jonhson-Sirleaf's weaknesses:
I think her weaknesses are most apparent when you look at the persistent power problem. Eight years since peace and there’s not even a single and coherent plan to rebuild the hydro plants. The nation is run on generators. If you want a reason for a stagnant economy, that is a major culprit.
It’s less the power issue itself than what it symbolizes–difficulty finding focus and getting things done. I can’t shake the feeling that she spent more time getting feted international, and running a US book tour, than the big issues at home.
However, he will not be surprised to see her win the first round of election:
I nitpick a little. She has been solid and principled since she entered office, and strikes me as the best leader on the table. I will not be surprised to see her win the first round of the election next week. Let’s hope for a peaceful one.
Jessica Shor explains what makes this year's election unique for onlookers and voters:
What truly makes this election unique for onlookers and voters alike is that it is only the second election since the end of the civil war. That is also what makes it potentially volatile. Although Liberia has a blossoming civil society and seemingly strong democracy, experts point to the Ivory Coast as an example of how easily elections can go awry. In the streets here, despite public service announcements calling for peaceful elections, there is still a palpable tension. Many of the Lebanese and Indian merchants here say they are keeping their inventories low until the election has passed, and several have purchased plane tickets to leave the country during elections.
Few dispute that Sirleaf will win a second term, but uncertainty looms larger than poll numbers and campaigns (and witch doctors). There is an ominous sense that as much as Liberians hold their breath and cross their fingers, nobody can predict how the country itself will fare
E. Swen argues that Liberians have changed a lot since the last time they voted:
Seeing it Differently, I am convinced that the people of Liberia have changed a lot in the past six years. In 1997 the election was characterized by several slogans such as “there are more bad people than good people” or “you killed my ma, you killed my pa, I will vote for you.” In 2005, the message changed with a little twist. While the enlighten Liberians were saying, “shine your eyes,” the rest of the people, mostly young Liberians were saying, “you know book, you not know book, I will vote for you.” When the 2011 elections campaign was declared opened, the Unity Party surprised the entire nation with its major campaign slogan, “ugly bamboo wait small, the monkey is still working.” With less than 5 days to the election many Liberians, especially the other political parties are still finding it difficult to counteract this slogan.