Two ex-officials of the National Elections Commission(NEC) have alarmed over the delay by the current leadership of NEC to settle elections dispute within the shortest possible time and also failing to certificate Lofa county senator elect, Browne J. Samukai as worrisome.
Mr. James Fromayan who once served as Chairman for NEC in 2005 and Jonathan Weedor, also a commissioner within the same period currently head of Center for Development and Elections Management(CEDEM). They told a news conference early this week that the delay in brining elections matters a swift conclusion was of concern to them. Both Fromayan and Weedor hail from the same county, Lofa.
Fromayan stepped down as head of NEC in 2011 Presidential and general elections that brought former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf a second chance because of technical problem associated with a typo-error that almost caused serious electoral violence after a runoff election was declared between the George Weah Congress for Democratic (CDC) and the Former ruling Unity Party (UP).
They made direct reference to Brownie J. Samukai of Lofa county whose certification has been delay for over two months since his elections.
“There is absolutely no justifiable reason why NEC has not certificated Mr. Brownie Samukai after his convincing victory in December. The indecisiveness of the NEC to certificate Samukai like others in his category gives the impression that the NEC is allowing undue outside influence in its work” Fromoyan said in a prepared text”
He added that it was also worrisome for Nimba County Edith Gongloe-Weh and Representative Jeremiah Koung case to be resolved at this time. The NEC board of Commissioners declared Koung as the winner after madam Weh challenged the result to NEC. They said that eyewitnesses account clearly authenticated the occurrence of fraud and massive irregularities that were associated with the result in Nimba’s election.
“CEDEM attention has also been drawn to the situation in Gbapolu County where violence was perpetrated against Mrs. Kanneh allegedly by supporters of the ruling party in an effort to intimidate her along with her supporters.”
CEDEM is also calling for the restoration of chapter 6, section 2(1) of the 1986 Elections law as a means of preventing constitutional crisis in 2023. According to the group during the 2014 special Senatorial Election, the Supreme Court without petitioning any aggrieved Party or Parties, removed the remedial provision that provided for the seating of a candidate declare victorious by the National Elections Commission whose victory is contested by another candidate or party.
In its place, the Supreme Court ruled that once a complaint is filed against the election of a candidate, even to the extent that said complaints lacks merit, the candidate concerned cannot be certificated until the complaint is adjudicated.
CEDEM believe that ruling by the Supreme Court is the basis for the current multiplicity of complaints filed to the Elections Commission. Another issue of grave concern to CEDEM is the need for Biometric enrollment to constitute the method of Liberia’s voter registration.
CEDEM. recommended the establishment of an electoral tribunal to adjudicate electoral cases to ensure speedy resolution of electoral dispute.
CEDEM further called for an efficient and effective decision making at the level of the NEC Board of Commissioners, and that the membership of the commission be reduced from seven to five as was the case before 1997.
They also believe that unilateral power of the President in relation to the nomination and appointment of commissioners of the NEC be reviewed with the objective of inserting a vetting mechanism that would ensure that the collective interest protected.
CEDEM also want the independence of the National Elections Commission be solidified by the Government of Liberia granting it financial autonomy status in the form of making available to the commission on a Semi-annual basis budgetary allocation to ensure that the commission focuses on the execution of its duties rather than daily trips to the Ministry of finance.
CEDEM is a National Civil Society Organization established in May 2019 by Liberians dedicated to the peace and development of Liberia. Initially known as Edward Wilmot Blyden Center for research and development, CEDEM is a legal Organization consistent with the laws of Liberia. The Center is dedicated to finding solution to the challenges confronting the Liberian Society in areas of election and other sectors of national development.