The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) has called on the National Elections Commission (NEC) to announce results of the Lofa County Senatorial By-election as soon as possible to reduce tension in the county.
The Committee says while it is cognizant of the statutory period required for the NEC to announce results, the just-ended election in Lofa was a single election and any delay in the announcement of results has the potential to heighten a polarized and divisive political environment in the county.
In a preliminary statement on the senatorial by-election released Thursday, June 30, 2022, the Committee says the NEC should treat all electoral disputes equally and adjudicate them in a timely and transparent manner.
It notes that on June 29, 2022, the day after the election, tension ensued between rival supporters of Unity Party’s Galakpai Kortimai and Independent Candidate Joseph Jallah, following separate pronouncements on radio stations in Foya district by Representative Thomas Fallah and the Unity Party spokesman in Lofa, Peter T. O. James, with both sides claiming victory and calling on their respective supporters to celebrate.
The ECC also underscores the need for the NEC to provide timely information to the public on any challenges coming out of Tuesday’s (June 28, 2022) polls on counting, collating and transmission of results.
At the same time, it urges political parties and independent candidates that participated in the polls to remain peaceful, abide by the laws and refrain from using the media to claim victory until the certified and official results are declared by the NEC in keeping with the electoral laws of Liberia.
Six (6) candidates, including five males and one female participated in Tuesday’s senatorial by-election.
“If any political party or independent candidate has grievances on the electoral process and results, they are encouraged to follow the laws and procedures as enshrined in the constitution, electoral laws and regulations”, the statement continues.
The ECC also calls on the police and other security apparatus deployed in Lofa to
continue to demonstrate neutrality and professionalism in dealing with all electoral stakeholders during the post-election period.
It wants the media to refrain from disseminating misinformation and disinformation during the period of counting, collating, and announcement of results.
The ECC deployed 168 observers in all five electoral districts of Lofa County to observe the by-election notes that voters turned out peacefully on Tuesday to vote with no serious critical incident.
It commends all voters of Lofa in protecting the peace and democratic stability of Liberia during the senatorial by-election, adding that voting generally commenced on time in most of the observed polling places and all sensitive voting materials were present.
However, it says that 48% of observed precincts and polling places were not accessible to people with disabilities or the elderly due to the use of stairs, and points to inconsistencies in how NEC staff addressed the issue of voters whose names were missing from the FRR.
“For instance, in 11% of polling places observed by the ECC, voters with valid voter cards but whose names were missing on the FRR were permitted to vote. In keeping with the NEC Polling and Counting Manual Chapter 4 on ‘Determining Who May Not Vote’ sub-section € states that “A person may not vote if she/he cannot be found in the voters’ roll”, ECC explains. Story by Jonathan Browne