Ahead of the much publicized mid-term Senatorial Elections scheduled for December 8, 2020, the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), has begun raising a red-flag, accusing the National Elections Commission (NEC) of taking unilateral decisions in coordination with the ruling party without the input from other political parties.
Under the Inter-Party Consultative Committee (IPCC), any decision that will affect the conduct of free and fair elections here should reference all political parties through the IPCC, the key stakeholders in the process.
But according to the CPP which comprises the former ruling Unity Party, Liberty Party, Alternative National Congress and the All Liberian Party,NEC has disregarded this mechanism and has been acting unilaterally in coordination with the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
The CPP in a communication addressed to NEC Chair Davidetta Browne Lansanah, indicated that the decision to push the mid-term election date from its constitutional mandated date in October 2020 to December 8, 2020 was unilaterally decided by the NEC’s board of commissioners in coordination with the CDC.
The parties said as if that was not enough the NEC again in coordination with the CDC, without reference to the established IPCC mechanism to get other parties input decided to launch the Voters’ Registration Update Exercise adapting a Mobile process.
“Our keen interest in the VRU process stems from the fact that the 2017 Voter Registration Exercise that gave rise to the current FINAL REGISTRATION ROLL was associated with grave irregularities as authenticated by the Supreme Court of Liberia. Again, we note that you continue to tread the path of unilateralism, in collusion with the same one party – the CDC-led Administration.
Your latest action of launching the Voters Update Exercise and adopting the method by which the exercise (MOBILE PROCESS) would be carried out without any reference to the other parties who are equal competitors in this sacrosanct democratic undertaking, raises grave and unsettling concerns.
This unilateral action on the part of the NEC, in coordination with the CDC-led Administration, to decide on the use of a previously-failed MOBILE PROCESS, instead of the time-tested standard STATIONARY APPROACH, is totally unacceptable and we demand that we stick with the time-tested method of a STATIONARY PROCESS in the pending VOTERS UPDATE EXERCISE,” the CPP noted.
The four opposition parties opined that their concern of a potentially prospective disastrous outcome using the MOBILE PROCESS in this Voters Update Exercise is justified by the irrefutable realities of the national experience of 2014.
In 2014, the Registration process was done by a MOBILE PROCESS for a period of five (5) weeks, in the dry-season month of March, with a problem-free Voters Roll from 2011.
Although that process achieved the objectives of including the names of those who had attained the age of 18 years and above then, and those who transferred residence from one location to another, that MOBILE PROCESS encountered serious problems in 2014, because, in many cases, the teams arrived at locations where the people to register had not arrived, or departed when those to do the registration had already left.
The CPP noted that “it is only foolhardy to believe that what could not be properly achieved under favorable conditions in 2014, over a period of five (5) weeks, can be achieved under less favorable conditions in two (2) weeks. It would interest you to note also that, although the NEC targeted to register one hundred and twenty thousand (120,000) voters in the 2014 VRU, a target the NEC failed to achieve over a period of five months, it is utterly unbelievable that your leadership has planned to magically register three hundred thousand (300,000) voters over a two-week period, as we have gathered from credible sources”.
“On account of the above, the CPP wishes to inform you that the only viable option to a VOTERS ROLL UPDATE EXERCISE in Liberia is the STATIONARY APPROACH, which entails opening all the precincts across the Country for the entire period of the Registration Process. We note very vehemently that no Voter Registration or Update Exercise has ever been conducted in Liberia for 15 days, particularly in a rainy season, even with the use of the Stationary Approach.
To insist that the pending Voters Roll Update Exercise be conducted using the MOBILE METHODOLOGY is tantamount to mere symbolism and cosmetic showmanship intended to achieve a rigging of theprocess.” See full communication on pages 10&11.
By Othello B. Garblah