Risks of violent unrest in Monrovia are high over the coming month if the constitutional referendum on 23 August passes.
Event: On 23 August, a constitutional referendum will be held on the proposed changes to the organisation of national elections, slated for October 2011.
Implications: The opposition opposes the proposed constitutional changes, which it views as an attempt by the government to change the constitution in favour of President Johnson Sirleaf and her Unity Party. The likely passage of the constitutional amendments will heighten risks of localised fighting between rival partisan supporters in Monrovia and cities in opposition strongholds, particularly in the north, over the coming month.
Firms with operations in Nimba, Bongo, Lofa and Monteserrado counties, such as BSG Resources, ArcelorMittal and Vale, face heightened risks of disruption to operations and property damage as opposition candidates are likely to use mercenaries returning from Ivory Coast and exploit ethnic rivalries. Foreign expatriates will be at moderate risk of collateral harm, while West African migrants will likely be targets for harassment. Though the Liberian Army and the police are poorly equipped and trained, the continued presence of the UN peacebuilding mission (UNMIL) will likely mitigate escalation risks.