Monrovia – The Opposition Unity Party has taken a serious stance against the National Elections Commission (NEC) for what it calls the body’s hesitation to release the Final Registration Roll (FRR) to political parties and independent candidates.
By Willie N. Tokpah / 0777039231
The Unity Party, on Tuesday, September 26, filed a request before the Supreme Court of Liberia for a Writ of Mandamus against the NEC, citing several reasons.
The decision by the UP comes days after concerns were raised by one of its propagandists, Martin Kollie, in a social media post that drew the attention of Senator Abraham Darius Dillon and others. They subsequently instructed NEC Boss, Davidetta Brown Lassannah, to appear before the upper house.
Dillon, who appears to be a staunch supporter of the presidential bid of Unity Party Standard Bearer, Joseph Nyumah Boakai, also led a gathering of UP supporters to the NEC Headquarters to make the same request.
However, the day following his call for the FRR to be released, the Unity Party filed a petition for the issuance of a mandatory Writ of Mandamus compelling the NEC to perform its specific legal duties to certify the FRR for voters by location for various legal reasons.
Mandamus is a judicial remedy in the form of an order from a court to any government, subordinate agency, or public authority to perform a specific act that they are obliged to do under the law, akin to a public duty or a statutory duty.
According to the UP, as a duly registered, certified, and accredited political party, they have an obligation to ensure that the NEC complies with the election laws when the election body fails to do so.
“The petitioner states that, in accordance with the duties assigned to the National Elections Commission by the New Elections Law and by a Supreme Court opinion, the NEC is mandated to publish and provide political parties and independent candidates with copies of the Final Registration Roll of all registered voters, broken down by locations in every electoral district in the country,” noted the UP petition.
On August 29, NEC Chairperson Davidetta Brown Lassannah appeared before the Liberian Senate and, under oath, promised to provide the FRR by September 18, but failed to do so.
The UP petition further noted that a communication was sent to the NEC Chairperson, requesting the FRR, as, in accordance with Section 16.1 of the 2023 voters’ roll, the NEC may take necessary measures to clean or correct any inaccuracies discovered on the voter’s roll.
The UP wants the Supreme Court to declare it a mandatory process to compel the NEC to publish the FRR, emphasizing that it is crucial for the integrity of the voters on Election Day.
The UP petition also informed the court that, in line with Section 16.5 of the 2023 Voters Registration Regulations, the FRR for each magisterial area should be available at the magisterial office for public inspection during normal business hours.
Additionally, citing Section 16.6 of the 2023 Voters Registration Regulations, the UP stated that the NEC may provide stakeholders with electronic copies of the Final Registration Roll in color and in a secured form. However, they want the court to make this provision mandatory, as the opposition party believes it is essential for maintaining the integrity of the voters on Election Day.
The UP argues that the NEC’s failure to publish the FRR and provide copies to political parties and independent candidates constitutes an irregularity that could undermine the integrity of the voters on Election Day.
The UP petition also referred to a Supreme Court decision in the Liberty Party versus NEC case, where the court mandated the NEC to fully comply with the standard of publication of the FRR.
Therefore, the UP is urging the NEC to clean the FRR to remove multiple names and identification numbers, and to provide hard copies to all election magistrates and polling places across the country, as required by the law.
The UP also wants the court to prohibit the NEC from allowing those whose names are not found on the FRR to vote, restricting addendums to the FRR to only those listed in the NEC polling and counting manual.
Furthermore, the UP insists that poll watchers who are not registered at their places of assignment and whose names are not on the FRR should not be allowed to vote.
As a result, the UP is urging the Supreme Court to issue an Alternative Writ of Mandamus against the NEC and to make it mandatory for the NEC to appear and show cause why the writ should not be issued for its failure to publish and provide the FRR in accordance with the law.