Liberia: National CSOs Council Condemns Attack on Elections Commission Headquarters; Calls For ‘Boundless’ Investigation, Prosecution of Alleged Culprits

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Monrovia – The National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NCSCL) said the recent arson attack on the headquarters of the National Elections Commission (NEC) recently did not only undermine the workings of the Commission, but create a dark cloud on Liberia’s democracy.

The NCSCL, in a statement issued in Monrovia through its Chairperson, Mrs. Loretta Pope-Kai, condemned the action and called for ‘boundless’ investigation and prosecution of those behind the act.

Excerpt of the statement: “We categorically condemn all violent act on the property of NEC and or the employees NEC. This action administered through the discharged of petrol bomb(s) on the compound of NEC, undermined the security of the Commission and expose staff and officials to fear, intimidation and demotivation to carry out their respective work. This affects the working of the Commission and create a dark cloud on the image of Liberia democratic establishment.”

The statement continued: “We caution all Liberians to refrain from these anti developmental acts and fully adhere to the rule of law. We call for boundless investigation and prosecution of allege culprit(s). Liberia’s peace, stability and development transcend the geopolitical objective of any individual(s) and institution(s). It must be secured by the rule of law and full integration of the citizenry.”

On Monday March 15, the NEC national headquarters was attacked by petrol bomb, burning one of the commission’s pickup trucks. The cost of the destruction is estimated at US$45,000.

The incident at the NEC happened barely a week when the home of Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe in Virginia, a suburb of Monrovia, was attacked in similar fashion.

No casualties were reported in both incidents. However, key opposition figures including Representative Francis Nyumalin of Lofa County and Mr. Mo Ali, Secretary-general of the Unity Party have been called in by the Liberia National Police and the National Security Agency (NSA) for questioning over statements made in connection to the delay in certificating Lofa County’s Senator-elect, Brownie Samukai.

Elections’ Matters

In its landmark press statement, the National Civil Society Council of Liberia lauded the NEC and all Liberians for the peaceful conduct of the December 8, 2020 Special Senatorial Elections and National Referendum.

However, the Council said it is deeply worry and frustrated over the prolong delay of the NEC to investigate electoral complaints as reported by aggrieved citizens and political institutions.

The Council said these unresolved complaints undercut the full presentation of the people of Liberia at the Legislature and seriously exhibit the capacity gap of the Commission.

“We provoke the consciousness of NEC to respect the Constitution and the New Election Law of Liberia by timely certificating elected legislators voted by the people and legally qualified by NEC. This is Constitutional and fundamental rights that they enjoy and must be protected,’ the Council urged.

Separation of Election from Sacred Traditional Institution

Alluding to the incident in Gbarpolu County where the lone female candidate, Madam Botoe Kanneh was attacked by the all-male traditional Poro Society, the CSOs Council expressed regret over the unspeakable interference of the sacred traditional institution of the nation and direct meddling into the just ended election.

The Council has recommended the establishment of an Inter-Sectoral Technical Review Committee on the situation, and further called for the drafting of a policy or act that will clearly recognize religion and culture in the sustainability of “our social environment but clearly drawing line of demarcation that deny or prohibit religious and traditional institutions interference/disruption of ongoing electoral processes.”

The Council believes that such policy or act of the National Legislature tackling such action will deny the reputation of this electoral violence, repudiate public shaming of the nation’s oldest sacred institution

Security of the Election

Still on elections’ matters, the Council stated that it recognizes the ‘huge’ personnel constraints and logistic gaps within the joint security, and also recognized the unflinching commitment and courage of personnel of the security apparatus. Owing to these huge deficiencies that continue to affect the operations and security of elections, the Council called on the Government to consider the recent situation in Gbarpolu County as a case study for future general election. According to the Council, when strategic emphasis is placed through intentional allocation and timely disbursement of fund to the joint security, it will enable respective institutions to carryout recruitment, training, procure logistic and integrate same in their existing infrastructure.

These processes will facilitate the timely deployment of sizable trained personnel and disallow the repeat of the Gbarpolu County foreign incursion. “We further request the timely provision of uniform, identification, communication devices, and stipend to deploy personnel of the Joint Security. This secures their morale, commitment, secures their dignity, and guarantees the security of the elections.” 

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