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.