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Editorial

Illegal Campaigning: Apply Rules of the Game, NEC

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On October 14, 2014, Liberian voters go to the poll in a Special Senatorial Mid-Term Election aimed at choosing 15 new senators for the 15 political subdivisions. Already, the Commission has released the official timetable with dates for the various activities leading to the conduct of the 2014 Special Senatorial Election in consonance with Article 46 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia. The exercise- the first of its kind under the 1986 Constitution, will be conducted for senators who won in the first category during the 2005 Legislative and Presidential Elections.

In adherence to the guidelines and time-table of NEC, Liberian political parties have either held their primaries or in the process of doing so for the selection of their candidates. While all of these are ongoing accordingly, a new wave of politics among aspirants and their supporters keep spreading across the country, especially in Bong and Montserrado Counties- a situation that may not augur well for national reconciliation and unity. It is no hidden secret that in many communities- villages, towns, cities, as well as other social gatherings,, aspirants who perceive others as threats continue to engage in smear campaigns other than dealing with the real issues, using surrogates- something, if not immediately halted, may result to violence.

Interestingly, perpetrators of these smear campaigns, characterized by hate messages are either individuals who have either contested in these senatorial elections twice and failed or incumbent senators. It must be made known to these individuals and their supporters, especially in Bong, Montserrado and Nimba Counties, that in practical politics, campaigning for elected seats in the Legislature is about “what you are made of and have to offer” when elected based on your past impact-making contributions to your societies, as well as your relationships with the constituents.

Unfortunately, almost all of the names behind these divisive and destructive politics seem not to have had anything to offer the people they’re now claiming to love since the 2011 Legislative and Presidential elections, but were now negatively campaigning against other potential aspirants, perhaps, owing to their past achievements in society.

Regrettably, the National Elections Commission, which should complete hands on the entire exercise through its Magistrates and others, may not just be disinterested in dealing with not only this violence-prone situation, but the persistent illegal political campaigning across the country, especially in Bong, Montserrado and Nimba Counties, which could undermine the special senatorial election, come October. NEC, through its Commissioners and Election Magistrates, must act now by “Applying the Rules of the Game” or else, its credibility and integrity may just come under the spotlight again.

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