Monrovia – The voter registration exercise ahead of Liberia’s crucial elections commenced February 1, 2017 in line with the National Elections Commission calendar of events, but the process is facing challenges as Liberians continue to lament its slow pace.
Report by Henry Karmo – [email protected]
In response to these challenges, NEC has warned that there would be delays in the voter registration process due to technical problems created by the malfunctioning of digital cameras donated by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
The UN agency has agreed to shoulder the responsibility of providing these materials to the commission for the conduct of the VR exercise across the country.
NEC chairman, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, said the problems were not unique to Liberia, but typical of every electoral activity anywhere around the world.
He said due to reports about the defective cameras, the Commission sees it is necessary to address these problems.
“The camera issue has nothing to do with our planning; our planning was accurate but the cameras were donated by the UNDP, they didn’t intend to bring these cameras they brought them with all these problems.”
“We are taking steps to address these problems but it is taking too long so this may slow the process,” Cllr. Korkoya.
Chairman Korkoya added: “We started VR yesterday (Wednesday, February 1) and obviously there are some problems that are not unique to the current exercise.”
“We work with partners and one of our partners – the UNDP – took the initiative to provide cameras and other related equipment that are used to take photograph.”
“Unfortunately, this equipment is new and lot has developed technical problems since they came. We are in discussion with the partner who has brought in technicians to repair these machines as they come from the field that is a tedious exercise.”
“We are discussing finding temporary replacement and the UNDP is open to that negotiation.”
The NEC Chairman disclosed that with the current situation at hand, in the next couple of days the VR process may be slow down but said it will not derail the exercise.
“Now we have a duty to be honest and factual as it relates to the electoral process and to do that we want to say that these camera issues will slow down the process but we have some technicians who are finding local alternative,” he added.
As if there is doubt about the NEC competence and capability, he assured Liberians that he has absolute confidence in the ability of Commission in carrying out the task at hand, while describing the prevailing situation as ‘unfortunate’.
“The biggest question is whether we have the capacity to address them (problems) and that I assure you that we do, and if necessary we may add up time if that be the case,” said Korkoya.
Addressing issues about owners of property that are being use as VR centers, he said most of these facilities are public facilities that are maintained and paid for by the Government of Liberia.
“Most of these schools are demanding money and we don’t have extra budget to pay for all the schools we are using for election,” he added.
On the issue of security at various registration centers, he said the Liberian National Police don’t have the capacity to deploy men in all areas of registration but the bureau of immigration has volunteered to help deploy men close to registration centers.
The NEC chairman also expressed satisfaction over the turnout for the voter registration, stating that it is quite encouraging.
“We just had report from Lofa County that the OMR form is been depleted and they just requested more forms.”
“All the issues are in Monrovia; I am just appealing with you to be patient we got 40 days to go if it is necessary to add time we will but we need to be careful,” he said.