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Editorial: NEC should intervene now

Reports of logistical breakdown in the ongoing Biometric Voter’s Registration exercise in some parts of Lofa and Maryland Counties should draw the immediate attention of authorities of the National Elections Commission (NEC) in Monrovia. Reports indicate that eligible Liberians turning out to register specifically in Foya District, Lofa and some parts of Maryland are unable to do so because NEC staff on the ground face technical problems with their machines.

Last week, the national chairman of the opposition Unity Party (UP) Rev. Luther Tarpeh, drove to the headquarters of the NEC in Monrovia and filed an official complaint about the situation that he said is occurring in the district that is the stronghold of his standard bearer, former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai. Rev. Tarpeh also spoke of a similar occurrence in Maryland County where solar panels, cameras, and computers of NEC are reportedly malfunctioning.

These developments are being corroborated by independent reporters on the ground with NEC staff in the counties unable to provide any immediate remedy unfortunately, instead, looking up to headquarters in Monrovia for solution.

The electoral commission transitioned from manual registration to biometric voter registration process, but gadgets provided to staff in the fields are malfunctioning, sometimes for days, leaving citizens turning out for the exercise frustrated. This is happening so despite no extension of the BVR process by NEC.

It is unfair for innocent citizens who sincerely want to register in order to exercise their political franchise on polling day by voting candidates of their choice to face such problem. Similar experiences were recorded during Phase I of the BVR process, which left citizens complaining.

It is important that the NEC moves expeditiously to address the concerns raised by the UP chairman, Rev. Tarpeh, not only to ensure a smooth exercise but to assure political parties and their leaders and other stakeholders that this is not deliberate, especially so when BVR is going on in districts where the ruling CDC commands significant support, while districts in which the opposition are said to be heavily concentrated face such challenge.

The NEC should leave no room for any suspicion or contention, as we move to the October 10th Presidential and General Elections by giving attention to problems coming from the field and addressing them promptly.

No complaint should be ignored no matter how insignificant, where it comes from or who is involved. Paying prompt attention would assure all sides, including the electorate, political parties, would-be Independent Candidates and other stakeholders that the NEC is on top of its game.

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At the same time, we call for trust on all sides which will give the NEC time in addressing concerns coming out of the field. Lest we forget, this is the constituted body responsible for the conduct of elections in Liberia.

It is important that all hands remain on deck, as we endeavor to have free, fair and transparent elections to further strengthen our emerging democracy for the benefit of the entire nation.

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