Monrovia – Liberty Party and its cohorts are firmed that some ballot papers were buried in Grand Gedeh County and those papers form part of the basis for which they are calling for a rerun of the October 10 Presidential Legislative Elections.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
But the National Elections Commission (NEC) upon investigation of the matter has termed the allegation as a “dangerous lie.”
“In an attempt to discredit the Commission, these political parties are all out to just fabricate.
They took the ‘know your candidates’ ballot papers we gave to everybody – political parties, civil society groups – they cut it and because it carries pictures, they put it on social media and said they found ballot papers buried in septic tank,” NEC Chairman, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya told reporters on Wednesday
Explaining the saga, the Executive Director of the NEC, Larmi Lighe, said the Commission requested the so-called ballots from the police authorities in Grand Gedeh County to do their own investigation.
According to him, during investigation, they realized that the contentious ballot papers were disingenuously cut from the ‘Know your candidates’ posters that were disseminated among political parties and civil society organizations for the purpose of civic and voters education.
Lighe explained that the ballots presented to the Grand Gedeh police as evidence were bigger than the original ballots and did not have security features like the original ballots.
“If you compare the size they portrayed as our ballots is far bigger than the actual size of the ballot, also if you compare the two, you will see the security feature on the side of the actual ballot, the one they cut you won’t see it. If you look at the back of the ballot you will see security feature,” he explained
An armature video of marked ballot papers tied in polythene bag went viral on social media, particularly Facebook. Most of the unearthed ballots were marked in favor of the Unity Party presidential candidate, Vice President Boakai.
The Unity Party Chairman reading a joint press statement signed by him, the Liberty Party and the All Liberian Party last Sunday said, “The views of Liberians, as expressed through their votes on October 10, 2017, which we now realize were not reflected in the announced results, cannot be taken for granted. “
“The growing reports of buried ballot papers being unearthed in Grand Gedeh County and several locations across the country cannot be understated. There can be no surer or truer way to solidify our peace than through a genuine democratic process free of interference and manipulation.”
Stop Unsupported Claims
The Chairman of the Elections Commission urged all political parties to use the appropriate channels to air grievances and complaints. He said announcing unsupported claims in the media risks inflaming the situation and dividing Liberians.
Cllr. Korkoya, “On one point raised in the joint statement this weekend from the three political parties, the National Elections Commission reassures all stakeholders the President of Liberia has met the magistrates on the request of the National Elections Commission on 17 September 2017. As head of state, the President has strongly supported the National Elections Commission in its mandate to hold free and fair elections.”
This clarification came in the wake of claims by the three parties that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf secretly met with election magistrates at her residence in an attempt to influence and undermine the credibility of the election.
Cllr. Korkoya: “At no point has the National Elections Commission’s independence been questioned by the President. The meeting was simply to highlight the importance of these elections to the citizens of Liberia and to encourage the magistrates to do a professional job and be independent.
For the three parties protesting the credibility of the elections, the meeting between the President and the Magistrates signaled inducement and amounted to interference with the electoral process.
“The President’s conduct was an act of intimidation and inducement, especially since some commissioners of the National Elections Commission had warned Chairman Jerome Korkoya against Election Magistrates meeting President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Those commissioners were correct that because there was no precedent for it anywhere, that meeting was not necessary at all.”
UP Chairman Wilmot Paye said, “In fact, if the President had any legitimate ‘concerns’ about this year’s elections, she needed to have made those concerns public and not to the magistrates, who are way below the administrative and legal institutional channels. Chairman Korkoya cannot continue to receive instructions from President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.”
Paye further contended on Sunday that prior to the President’s meeting with election magistrates, she had met with some Commissioners of NEC and hinted that she was “interested in the outcome of the elections”. Of course, as an individual Liberian citizen she was entitled to her view of which candidate to support, canvass or vote for.
Oct. 10 Was Transparent
Contrary to claims being made by some political parties that October 10 elections had many flaws and irregularities that put its integrity to question, Chairman Korkoya said the Commission stands by the election results published.
“All of the international and national election observers have concluded that so far the election process has been well conducted, transparent and credible. None of them have identified any fraud in the election process. There were some lapses in places, but nowhere did this impact on the results of the elections.
No Basis for Rerun
The National Elections Commission’s boss sounded confident that the Supreme Court of Liberia would have no basis to order a rerun of the elections as requested by Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine’s Liberty Party.
The Liberty Party political leader insisted the lapses experienced during October 10 do not warrant the cancellation of the entire process.