By Lewis S. Teh
The Ex-chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC) James Flomayan has questioned the Commission’s credibility to conduct free, fair and transparent elections in 2023.
Speaking recently in Monrovia, Mr. Flomayan claimed that the power from above is remotely controlling the electoral body, which he said is responsible for the NEC’s alleged inability to rule in the ongoing CPP framework document case that is currently at the Supreme Court of Liberia.
Mr. Flomayan continued that the manner and form in which the NEC is proceeding with electoral dispute involving the controversial CPP framework documents clearly indicate the Commission has presented itself as a part of the ongoing conflict.
“Once you enter into an agreement and one group decides to pull out due to whatever reason that should not be a problem”, he argued.
He said once the original framework document is brought forth, it will then be the court that will tell which party is saying the truth about signing or not signing, analogizing that people can get marry and yet divorce so if one party decided to pull out of whatever negotiation, there’s nothing wrong with it and at such, it shouldn’t be a genuine concern of the NEC.
The former NEC boss further argued that all of the facts available and the NEC’s alleged refusal to take a decision, rather than leaving its responsibility with the court to decide, definitely defines the Commission as being a party.
“For me, Mr. Samukai should have been certificated long, because he followed both the Elections and the court laws and registered and subsequently won the election landslide yet, you wouldn’t certificate him; these are problems.”
However, he suggested that the alleged integrity problem at the NEC can only be resolved with the setting up of five-member counterpart commissioners by the NEC in keeping with international best practices.
“The possibility of conducting peaceful and credible elections depends on the manner in which electoral management body will manage the election. It’s imperative that the current integrity problem and operation of the election body be adequately addressed so as to enable the NEC to take the country to transparent elections in 2023”, he added.
Mr. Fromayan reiterated that the alleged integrity crisis at the NEC can be only be addressed with the establishment of five-member counterpart commissioners that should be comprised of representatives of the United Nations, ECOWAS, African Union, and the NEC, which he stressed must be urgently organized by the international community to validate all actions of the current NEC to ensure that the planning and conduct of the upcoming presidential and legislative elections are executed in accordance with international best practices. This, he said would help in the consolidation of Liberia’s experiment with democracy.
He added that international experts should be assigned to monitor the data center in conjunction with NEC data team to ensure protection of collective interest, noting that the data center should be accessible to all political parties and independent candidates to erase existing doubt.
He further emphasized that to prevent a repeat of the fraud that was associated with the application of the optical mark recognition system drawn from the 2017 presidential and legislative elections, there’s critical and compelling need to introduce biometric enrollment system during the 2023 presidential and legislative elections.
The NEC has scheduled senatorial by-election in Lofa for 10th May to fill vacant seat created by the criminal trial and conviction of Senator-elect Brownie Samukai and others for misappropriation of soldiers’ money totaling over One Million United States Dollars, while serving as Minister of Defense during the Sirleaf administration.
But the Unity Party, which broke away from the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) was taken before the NEC by the embattled chairman of the Liberty Party Musa Hassan Bility, who petitioned the electoral commission not to qualify the UP to contest in elections because of existing CPP law that bars a constituent party from independently fielding a candidate in an election until after the 2023 polls.
The NEC upheld the petition, but the UP ran to the Supreme Court, where it is now as the date for the pending by-election draws near. Editing by Jonathan Browne