Liberia: President, Citing COVID-19 Pandemic, Wants Mid-Term Senatorial Elections in December
Monrovia – Liberians are poised to go to the polls in October to elect 15 Senators from across the 15 political subdivision of the country and also vote in a referendum to amend certain parts of the constitution but that might not be the case as President George Weah has written the legislature requesting extension of the two activities.
In a communication to the senate the Liberian President said, he has been informed by the National Elections Commission about the impossibilities to conduct the pending mid-term election and referendum on the constitutional date which is the second Tuesday of an election year.
According to the President’s communication, the reason for the postponement is because major preparatory activities such as the voter registration update, International Procurement, recruitment and training of thousands of temporary staff that should have been completed in a specific time firm are yet to be commence to COVID-19.
“For instance, international flights have been grounded, borders have been closed and countries are experiencing lockdown – all activities associated with free, fair and transparent election which have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, similarly as was the case in the aftermath of the deadly Ebola virus outbreak of 2014.”
Thus, the President said, it may seem obvious that due to the factors outlined, the October 13, 2020 Special Senatorial Elections will not be held. As such the NEC has suggested December 15, 2020 as an ideal date to conduct elections and referendum.”
According to the NEC, the new adjusted date will accord them ample time to conclude the remaining preparatory activities and allow the elections to go ahead in December. The extension also leaves room for the declaration of results, potential election protests and resolution prior to senators being seated by January 2021. “In consideration of all the challenges, I request a joint resolution of the legislature by extending the election date from October to December 2020,” the President said.
Prior to the end of his tenure, Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya, former Chairman of NEC expressed doubts over the possibility of conducting a “credible election” in 2020, due to the Commission being behind on its schedule to implement some pre-election activities.
Cllr. Korkoya, appearing before the Senate on Tuesday, February 25, said that the NEC was yet to receive a dime from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning of the US$17 million budget needed for the conduct of the election.