Blowing the Whistle on the Destruction of Campaign Posters

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As political parties and electoral candidates begin their campaigns, EISA Long Term Observers (LTOs) have reported the destruction of campaign posters across the counties under observation. The destruction of campaign posters can be dismissed as a minor offence that does not pose much threat to the elections. However, even minor offences when accumulated can pose a threat to the credibility of an election. The destruction of campaign posters raises important questions about what this can teach us about important democratic values that are most relevant during the campaign period. EISA applies a comprehensive rights-based observation methodology to assess all phases of the electoral cycle, including the important voter’s right to informed choice. The rights of voters to know the candidates and what they stand for/against is fundamental to electoral democracy. Damaging campaign materials limits this right, undermining the quality of a country’s democracy.


  • EISA LTOs have observed 52 campaign activities since the start of the official campaign period on 4 August 2023.
  • 72% of the campaign activities observed have been those of the Coalition for Democratic Change and the Unity Party (UP).
  • EISA LTOs have observed widespread destruction of campaign posters especially in Grand Bassa, Bomi and Lofa.

The campaign period provides a window of opportunity for contesting political parties and candidates to appeal to the public by providing reasons why they believe voters should vote for them. During campaigning, electoral contestants use a mix of strategies to campaign. Each country has its own unique style of campaigning, inspired by cultural practices, arts, politics, and finances. In Liberia, EISA LTOs have noted the use of a wide range of different campaign strategies, including campaign rallies, parades, town hall meetings, door-to-door contact, the distribution of posters, flyers, street gatherings, and the distribution of branded party T-shirts and materials. As an example, political campaigns move from town to town, holding town hall meetings where they can engage local communities. Some candidates also utilise market days to meet and interact with prospective voters in their districts. In some cases, the political parties and their supporters’ parade in party paraphernalia with music through the major streets of towns. Parades by political parties are often held to welcome candidates into the cities and towns. LTOs have also observed campaign events organised by individual candidates or parties during candidate anniversaries such as birthdays and betrothals.

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The IEOM is pleased that the campaign environment has stabilized significantly after the heated start to campaigns which saw coffins with images of opponents publicly paraded, and clashes between supporters of different parties. As campaigns progress, the destruction of campaign posters and banners should be viewed as a bad practice that should be discouraged by all stakeholders. Banners of candidates from the various political parties are being defaced or destroyed, such as the picture above.

Liberia’s electoral laws do not specifically reference destroying the campaign material as an offence. In accordance with international best practice, destroying an opponent’s banner/poster can incite violence. The Farmington declaration, to which political parties have appended their signatures under the section on electoral violence, condemns such provocative acts. The declaration notes that the signatories:

“Publicly condemn all forms of violence and intimidation and unreservedly dissociate from any action that may undermine the free and fair conduct of the elections, whether perpetrated by our supporter, agents and opponent.”

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Citizens and electoral candidates need to understand that campaigns should be conducted in a manner that respects the international human rights framework. Chapter III of the 1986 Constitution of the Republic of Liberia also outlines freedom of expression, freedom of speech and freedom of opinion as fundamental rights. Destroying campaign materials undermines three universal freedoms that must be respected in this pre-election period.

  1. The freedom of opinion and expression – all electoral candidates should be able to share their ideas and visions of what they will do if people vote for them without interference or discrimination.
  2. The freedom to assembly and association – all electoral candidates should be able to rally for support and form alliances during elections.
  3. Freedom to access information – this is linked to the right of citizens to make an informed choice through a free and balanced understanding of the views and promises of the contesting electoral candidates.

All electoral candidates that have been certified by the NEC to contest the elections have the right to campaign freely. Destroying a candidate’s poster robs the candidate of their right to campaign and is also a disservice to the electorate. People have a right to know who is running for office and what their promises are so they can make an informed choice. As such the IEOM calls for all political party supporters, candidates and citizens to desist from destroying campaign posters and unite under the banner of political tolerance for different opinions and views. The only way for democracy to thrive, is to have healthy debates and competition in the interest of developing Liberia, informing Liberia’s electorate on the range of choices available to them at the ballot box.

About USAID Support to EISA-IEOM to Liberia: The USAID-funded EISA International Election Observation Mission (EISA-IEOM) Activity seeks to enhance the integrity of the 2023 Liberia Presidential and Legislative elections through the deployment of an independent international election observer mission (EOM) to monitor, assess and report on all phases of the electoral process in accordance with international and regional benchmarks. The IEOM is implemented in close coordination with the financial support of USAID/Liberia and will complement the efforts of other electoral stakeholders.