The approaching presidential and legislative elections presented the opportunity for instability and the possibility of violence in Liberia. Although the first round of elections was conducted without significant violence, on November 7, 2011, the day before the presidential runoff election, Liberian law enforcement clashed with opposition party members at the leading opposition party headquarters in Monrovia, which resulted in at least one civilian dead and several injured.President Ellen Johnson Sirleafimmediately established a Special Independent Commission of Inquiry (“Commission”) to investigate the riot. Its report, released about three weeks later, was considered inadequate and was rejected by both the Liberian people and the international community. President Sirleaf requested U.S. Government assistance in reopening the investigation and pursuing new investigative leads.
Prior to the first round of elections, four CSO employees (including one Civilian Response Corps member) were deployed to perform an ICAF (Interagency Conflict Assessment Framework) analyses in Liberia. The CRC member stayed to observe the first round of elections. Subsequent to the President’s request for U.S. Government assistance in reopening the investigation, the CRC member returned to Liberia and stayed from late December 2011 through early March 2012 as an advisor to the Commission. The Commission presented its new findings and report to the President in early March 2012.
Acting on the Commission’s new findings and report, the Ministry of Justice began a criminal investigation and several law enforcement officers, including a member of the President’s protective service, were suspended. While the shooting in November 2011 stained the government’s handling of an otherwise transparent and credible presidential election, and also highlighted the capacity issues of Liberia’s security sector, this reinvestigation helped to restore the public’s trust in their government to adequately respond to security-related situations, andpromote rule of law.