Liberia: Collaborating Opposition Threatens ‘Radical Approach’ If ‘People’s Will’ Doesn’t Prevail
Monrovia – The four opposition collaborating political parties have issued a clarion call to the National Elections Commission (NEC) and the Government of Liberia that they will do everything within their powers to ensure that the will of the people of Montserrado County District #15 prevails.
They even threatened to include what they described as “radical approaches.”
“Let the word go forth to those seeking to circumvent the District #15 by-election results that we are not taking this process lightly. We hope that the NEC does the right thing by allowing the will of the people to prevail and give our candidate Miss Urey her deserved victory.”
At a joint news conference Monday, August 12, the four collaborating parties — All Liberian Party (ALP), Alternative National Congress (ANC), Liberty Party (LP) and Unity Party (UP), said they take keen note of the ongoing investigations at NEC and will follow its logical and legal conclusion.
The outcome of said process, that is its “fairness”, will largely determine what their next course of action will be. “Let state clearly that the NEC particularly Jerome Korkoya, Floyd Sayor and their co-conspirators will be responsible for any retrogression of the gains this country has made over the years.”
The opposition also urged NEC to expedite its investigative process as is reasonably expected and give Miss Telia Urey “her victory.” They also want the removal and subsequent investigation of Floyd Sayor from the election body’s data processing center, as he has now become “an agent of instability in Liberia.”
The collaborating opposition political parties are also alleging that President George Weah is directly interfering into the ongoing investigation and called him to desist from such. In their statement they claimed that President Weah has called on Chairman Korkoya and members of the Elections Commission to his residence in order to circumvent the “will” of the people.
In their allegations, they also pointed out President Weah’s violation of the Code of Conduct by allowing the use of government vehicles for political rallies of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change’s (CDC) candidates and the President’s participation in a march in areas of District #15 in contravention of NEC mandate while partisans carried a casket with vandalized photos of their opposing candidate in the district.
During the press conference on Monday, August 12, presided over by Mr. Darlington Ulysses Barchue of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), the political parties claimed that particularly in the District, NEC expressly conceded to discovery of the voter registry being badly contaminated and prone to facilitating a fraudulent election, which they believe was being done by Floyd Sayor.
“As our precondition to our participation in the election and to mitigate the catastrophe attendant to said inconsistent voter registry, our parties entered an agreement with the NEC prior to the conduct of the elections that our observers would have been allowed to sit in the closest possible proximity to NEC’s voter identification officers (VIOs) responsible for identifying voters but they failed to live up to the agreement.
NEC is still hearing election dispute complaints filed by the candidate of the four collaborating political party, Ms. Telia Urey, of the collaborating opposition political parties. Ms. Urey filed complaints of electoral inconsistences and fraud in District #15.
Announcing the final result in the by-elections, NEC Chairman, Cllr. Korkoya said, the final results of the Representative By-election in District #15 will not be reported until complaints Ms. Urey and other individuals filed with the Commission are properly investigated by the independent hearing officer of the NEC.
“Consistent with our procedures, results from the remaining 20 polling places, which constitute 21.3 percent of the polling places, are currently quarantined, and will not be announced pending the outcomes of the investigations to be conducted by the Independent Hearing Officer,” Cllr. Korkoya said.
Gibly Sayedee Momo, who was assigned at four precincts with the codes: 30136, 30135, 30138, and 30437 and Bishop Slebo Frank from precincts with code: 30188 and 30132, brought in their complaints to Ms. Urey, who then used their allegations to file complaints with the NEC.
In the controversial race in the distric, the four-opposition parties backed Telia Urey leaped narrowly ahead of Mr. Abu Kamara, the ruling CDC’s candidate in the updated tally announced by NEC.
Ms. Urey, at the moment, stands with 5,573 votes representing 42.68 percent to Kamara’s 5,417 votes or 41.48 percent.
Under current arrangements, the complaint mechanism is handled solely by NEC. Its hearing officers are all NEC employees, while Commissioners serve in an appellate capacity.
Critics contend that such arrangements place the NEC in a position of judge, jury and executioner. Recommendations calling for the setting up of an ad hoc tribunal, composed of judges to handle elections disputes in order to reduce the burden on the Supreme Court, have since not been implemented.
Additionally, the Final Registration Roll (FRR), which is key to holding free, fair, transparent and credible elections, have yet to be cleaned despite a mandate from the Supreme Court to do so in 2017. This situation has also given rise to claims that the elections results were “fixed”.