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Editorial

Let’s Give NEC the ‘Benefit of the Doubt’

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Political parties and individuals desirous of seeking electoral positions were recently warned against early campaigning across the country ahead of the 2017 Presidential and Representative Elections in Liberia. According to the National Elections Commission of Liberia, it had observed that some political parties and individuals were engaged in pre-campaign activities in violation of Chapter VI, Section 6 of the 2014 Guidelines Relating to the Registration of Political Parties and Independent Candidates.

The Commission also observed that self-styled groups under names such as “Movements for….., Friends of…..” and others in support of political parties, individuals and/or independent aspirants intending to contest the 2017 Elections were also engaged in activities currently contravening its aforementioned guidelines. In its recent warning issued in Monrovia, NEC made it emphatically clear that political campaigning for the 2017 Presidential and Representative Elections is yet to be declared, and that engaging in early campaign activities – political rallies, political broadcasts ( political statements and messages in print and electronic media), use of posters, fliers, buntings, advertisement on billboards, public and private buildings, light poles and the internet, as well as T-shirts, caps and other promotional items and Individual Promotional stickers on vehicles, outside of the campaign period are strictly prohibited under Section 24.3 of the Guidelines.

The Commission strongly warned political parties, independent aspirants and groups engaged in such activities to desist with immediate effect as it will not hesitate to institute punitive actions against violators to include decertification or suspension in the case of political parties.

Though the recent caveat issued by NEC is belated or long over-due, it may also be on course in attempting to guide the political environment as the regulator, especially towards next year’s elections. But it is no secret that NEC, under the current Board of Commissioners, had – for too long, allowed political groupings and individuals to loosely exercise their rights in total disregard for the electoral guidelines by conducting rallies in Monrovia and elsewhere, extensively using the media, as well as printing and wearing T-shirts, among others, noticeable to almost all Liberians, including the very commissioner of the NEC.

Be that as the aforementioned may be, ‘every long tope has an end’; and with these political activities still on-going, let’s wait and see whether NEC will not actually “hesitate to take punitive actions against violators to include decertification or suspension”.

It is indeed the reality that some political parties and individuals desirous of seeking electoral offices may still engage in these early campaign activities just to test the ability, capacity and determination to ensure strict adherence to the election guidelines; but the ‘ball is now in the coat’ of NEC to substantiate its latest public warning recently issued in Monrovia.

Its inability to SET THE FIRST EXAMPLE on any violator of its guidelines may just render it a toothless bull-dog. And that the people’s confidence in NEC’s ability and capacity, as it relates to conducting free, fair and transparent elections, may just be detrimental to peaceful Presidential and Representative Elections in Liberia come 2017.

But let’s still give the National Elections Commission the benefit of the doubt in the wake of this latest development.  Let’s Give NEC the ‘Benefit of the Doubt’ Political parties and individuals desirous of seeking electoral positions were recently warned against early campaigning across the country ahead of the 2017 Presidential and Representative Elections in Liberia.

According to the National Elections Commission of Liberia, it had observed that some political parties and individuals were engaged in pre-campaign activities in violation of Chapter VI, Section 6 of the 2014 Guidelines Relating to the Registration of Political Parties and Independent Candidates.

The Commission also observed that self-styled groups under names such as “Movements for….., Friends of…..” and others in support of political parties, individuals and/or independent aspirants intending to contest the 2017 Elections were also engaged in activities currently contravening its aforementioned guidelines.

In its recent warning issued in Monrovia, NEC made it emphatically clear that political campaigning for the 2017 Presidential and

Representative Elections is yet to be declared, and that engaging in early campaign activities – political rallies, political broadcasts ( political statements and messages in print and electronic media), use of posters, fliers, buntings, advertisement on billboards, public and  private buildings, light poles and the internet, as well as T-shirts, caps and other promotional items and Individual Promotional stickers on vehicles, outside of the campaign period are strictly prohibited under Section 24.3 of the Guidelines.

The Commission strongly warned political parties, independent aspirants and groups engaged in such activities to desist with immediate effect as it will not hesitate to institute punitive actions against violators to include decertification or suspension in the case of political parties.

Though the recent caveat issued by NEC is belated or long over-due, it may also be on course in attempting to guide the political environment as the regulator, especially towards next year’s elections. But it is no secret that NEC, under the current Board of Commissioners, had – for too long, allowed political groupings and individuals to loosely exercise their rights in total disregard for

the electoral guidelines by conducting rallies in Monrovia and elsewhere, extensively using the media, as well as printing and wearing T-shirts, among others, noticeable to almost all Liberians, including the very commissioner of the NEC.

Be that as the aforementioned may be, ‘every long tope has an end’;  and with these political activities still on-going, let’s wait and see whether NEC will not actually “hesitate to take punitive actions against violators to include decertification or suspension”.

It is indeed the reality that some political parties and individuals desirous of seeking electoral offices may still engage in these early campaign activities just to test the ability, capacity and determination to ensure strict adherence to the election guidelines; but the ‘ball is now in the coat’ of NEC to substantiate its latest public warning recently issued in Monrovia. Its inability to SET THE FIRST EXAMPLE on any violator of its

guidelines may just render it a toothless bull-dog. And that the people’s confidence in NEC’s ability and capacity, as it relates to conducting free, fair and transparent elections, may just

be detrimental to peaceful Presidential and Representative Elections in Liberia come 2017. But let’s still give the National Elections Commission the benefit of the doubt in the wake of this latest development. 

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