Liberia's Elections Chief Urges Political Parties to Desist From Pre-Campaigning

Liberia's Elections Chief Urges Political Parties to Desist From Pre-Campaigning

Monrovia - The chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Jerome Korkoya, has warned against pre-campaigning by political institutions and individuals, stressing that the posting of individual pictures and political parties are against the election laws.

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“When you are a political party you have to be responsible,” Korkoya said. “It’s difficult to manage and control pre-campaigning activities. We therefore have to rely on your responsible conduct,” he said.

He said the NEC was aware that some political actors were erecting bill boards and posting bills at the entrance of almost every country and other places around the country.

“We are going to work on this; why are you putting your picture all around the place? We are studying the legal basis to move,” he warned.

The NEC Chairman made the statement Thursday at the official certification program of the Coalition For Democratic Change (CDC) comprising the Congress for Democratic (CDC), the National Patriotic party (NPP) and the Liberian People Democratic Party (LPDP).

The certification is in keeping with Section 8.5 of the new election law of 1986 amended in 2004. According to the NEC, the coalition, before Thursday’s certification met the requirements required by the elections law which includes, having a bank account with a minimum balance of $US10, 000.00; procuring an indemnity insurance policy of US$100,000.00, and acquired headquarters.

Further commenting, the NEC chair said the Commission is the only authority to declare campaign open.

“We want you to desist. We want the CDC to help the NEC disseminate the necessary information the people need as it relates voter education.

As we certificate you today, I challenged you to adopt responsible attitude in your criticism of government and other authorities. For the position you aspire for, you have followers so what you say can help to the process,” Cllr Korkoya said.

He continued: “I want to remind you that as a political party there is a regulatory authority watching the statement you make because there are laws on the book and the statement you make cold help or harm the system. We encourage you to be responsible in your criticism to understand the facts and help consolidate the country democratic process.”

Korkoya also cautioned political leaders to be and remain involve with the commission by familiarizing themselves with the rules that will govern the election instead of relying on rumors and speculations which could undermine the process, warning that the commission will not tolerate such triviality.

CDC Commits to Working with NEC

In response to the certification, the chairman of the coalition Nathaniel McGill, said they “stand ready and committed to working with the NEC for the peaceful conduct of the 2017 elections”, and commended the commission for the level of engagement with political parties particularly through the interparty committee.

McGill Commended the international partners for extending the UN mandate in Liberia up to 2018, after UNMIL was recently mandated to assist in the facilitation of the national election.

The Coalition chair also requested the NEC to urgently engage the UN Mission to request logistical support in needed areas, while emphasizing the need for government to also fully support the Commission for the conduct the elections in 2017.

“We want the government of Liberia to consider as an imperative priority of the 2017 presidential and general election by providing urgently needed funds to the NEC to ensure the smooth conduct of these critical elections. We are concerned because the government has provided fraction of US$2.9 million of the Commission’s US$20 million budget of the Fiscal Year 2016/2017 when we have gone two quarters of the Fiscal Year.”

“The Coalition also requests that all logistical support to the NEC should be provided through the UN Mission in Liberia to maintain the independence of the electoral process. We are calling on all agencies to give support directly to the NEC and want all government agencies that have direct or indirect interest to stay clear of this process.”

The coming together of the Congress for Democratic Change, National Patriotic Party (NPP) and former Speaker Alex Tyler’s Liberia People Democratic Party (LPDP) was massively greeted with mixed views.

But it seems the Coalition thwarted recent efforts by Senator Prince Y. Johnson of Nimba County who appeared determined to bring key opposition figures or parties together.

That meeting held in Ganta, Nimba County brought together Senator Johnson (organizer of the meeting) of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR), Liberty Party's Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, Benoni Urey of the All Liberian Party ALP and Alexander Cummings of Alternative National Congress (ANC).

Other parties in attendance included the former ruling National Patriotic Parties (NPP), Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE), Movement for Progressive Change, All Liberia Coalition Party, Victory for Change Party, New Liberia Party, Vision for Liberia Transformation, Union of Liberian Democrats and Liberian Nation Union (LINU).