Liberia: IREDD Distances Itself from ECC Call for New NEC Chair-designate Nomination

According to Aidoo, the nominee should not be disqualified based on his nationality as a naturalized citizen of Liberia but on his character and competence

MONROVIA – Mr. Herald Aidoo, Executive Director of the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) has distanced himself from calls made by Liberia’s largest civil society grouping that oversees electoral matters for the Senate to reject the new National Elections Commission (NEC) chair designate Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike.

Mr. Aidoo in an interview with FrontPageAfrica said the call by the ECC which he is a member of is unconstitutional. According to him, the nominee should not be disqualified based on his nationality as a naturalized citizen of Liberia but on his character and competence.

“As an entity IREDD, we agree that we need a commissioner who will have independence and neutrality, and someone who can deliver on his or her mandate as a commissioner. We don’t to a component of the statement that says that the fact that the chairman designate is a naturalize Liberian, he cannot occupy that position.

“As an institution that ascribe to the rule of law and the tenant of Democracy, it is important that our actions do not depict discrimination against people because of nationality. We don’t think naturalization is an issue we should be looking at his competence to deliver.

However, IREDD has expressed concern over what he called the “proximity”, and closeness of the nominee to the executive branch of government. “Our concern is how he will exhibit neutrality.” The IREDD boss who was also present at the Press Conference held by the ECC said, he earlier raised the issue to the ECC but his concerns were ignored.

He also called on the Executive and the Legislature to take into consideration public perception about the nominee by being conflict-sensitive. According to him, perception about the nominee could play a major role in maintenance of the Country’s peace.

The ECC Press statement

On Tuesday Liberia’s largest civil society grouping that oversees electoral matters out rightly rejected President George Weah’s pick as commissioner of the National Elections Commission.

The Election Coordinating Committee (ECC) called a news conference on Tuesday, March 24 and denounced the president’s nominations as lacking broad-based consultation with stakeholders.

ECC said though it realizes that the President has the power to appoint and the new election law of 2013 states that a commissioner must be a Liberian, it still takes acceptance to the nomination of a Cllr. Nwabudike, who still holds loyalty to his country of birth – Nigeria.

ECC said Cllr. Nwabudike is morally conflicted and lacks the credibility required to exercise neutrality over an independent body that is supposed to decide Liberia’s president and other elected officials.

If the President failed to rescind Cllr. Nwabudike’s nomination, the ECC also called on the Liberian Senate not to confirm him.

“The Elections Coordinating Committee, (ECC) strongly opposes the nomination of Cllr. Ndubusi Nwabudike as the new Chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC), replacing Cllr. Jerome Korkoyah and calls on the President to withdraw the nomination and the Senate not to confirm him if the withdrawal is not heeded to,” the ECC said through a statement read by its Chairman, Oscar Bloh at the press conference.

Bloh argued: “Not everything that is legal is expedient. If he is successful in serving as the Chairperson for NEC, he could sit as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Bench because there is no law that would prohibit it.”

The Election Coordinating Committee fears that the chairmanship of the national election management body cannot be seen as representing the interest of any particular political party as elections are about people and the public needs to have trust in the election management body, which is a fundamental requirement for the peaceful outcomes of election processes.