The Congress for Democratic Change or CDC of football star turned politician Senator George Weah has issued an early warning to voters and stakeholders in the Liberian electoral process that the upcoming 2017 Presidential and Legislative elections will not be void of fraud.
The CDC boycotted the 2011 presidential run-off citing fraud, following demonstrations that almost compromise the country’s fragile peace process. CDC’s Chairman Nathaniel McGill told journalists at the party’s headquarters Monday July 11, that the country’s pending 2017 elections may likely suffer similar fate due to the refusal of government to introduce a biometric voter’s card. Voters have used manual ID Cards for the past two elections.
He said the National Elections Commission or NEC and heads of political parties had earlier agreed to introduce biometric voters’ Identification Card for eligible voters to avoid fraud but the electoral body has informed heads of political parties that it can no longer proceed as agreed because government says it does not have money to fund the biometric ID Cards.
The total amount needed to fund the biometric voters ID card is estimated at US14 million, something the government, according to McGill, has clearly indicated that it is impossible to generate before the 2017 elections –and that instead voters will take the manual ID Card as was done over the two previous elections.
McGill said the announcement by NEC at the eleven hour that it can no longer proceed as agreed with the issuant of biometric card is worrisome and suggest fears that the 2017 election may not be transparent; hence the government’s claim of no money is inexcusable.
He said there are so many ways for the government to raise money, and so it should not create such an atmosphere that there is no money. He said for an example, the government could divert the US7 million allotted in the draft 2016/2017 national budget to fund the ongoing renovation of the Executive Mansion to fund the biometric voters’ ID Card.
According to him, while is true that the Executive Mansion renovation is important, the conduct of a free, fair and transparent election is far more cardinal than the renovation of the State House.
He said since July 2006, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has not operated from the Executive Mansion but the functionaries of the government are still active, unlike the elections which is a determinable factor for a smooth transition through democratic means.
McGill noted that it would be decent history to write when Liberia to again see smooth transition of national powers which in decades the country has not witnessed, but added that it would be possible if all necessary checkpoints are erected through peaceful channels.
McGill, also used the occasion to fire some salvos at President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for her alleged gross violation of the country’s Code of Conduct, which bars public officials appointed by the Executive from engaging in political activities or seeking elective posts.
McGill said it is unfortunate and somehow embarrassing for President Johnson Sirleaf to preside over a convention that clearly violates the Code of Conduct which according to him, she signed into law.
The CDC maintained that it is totally unacceptable for two key ministers in the Unity Party led government to have been elected by partisans to stair the affairs of the Unity Party while still serving in government.
Ministers Len Eugene Nagbe of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism and Neto Zarzar Lighe’ of the Labour Ministry were both elected as Secretary General and Senior Vice Chairman for the ruling establishment respectively at the just ended convention.
McGill urged the two ministers to honorably resign their respective post either from government or their political party’s position.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Edited by Othello B. Garblah