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Liberia’s democracy suffocates

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JUST AS VOTERS and candidates in Montserrado County were gearing up for Monday, July 08 by-elections, they received the disappointing news that the polls have been postponed for the second time, raising serious skepticism about the readiness of the National Elections Commission to conduct the elections.

THE NEC IN a press statement late Thursday, 04 July cited “technical and operational reasons” for the second postponement, leaving candidates who have been campaigning across the county and in electoral district#15 respectively in a state of uncertainty as to when the polls will be actually held.
The second delay raises constitutional argument about the NEC’s mandate to schedule or reschedule the by-elections outside the 90-day timeframe provided by the Constitution of Liberia since this period elapses effective July 9, 2019.

UPON RECEIPT OF an official communication from the National Legislature to the National Elections Commission, declaring a vacant seat in either House, the NEC is by law to conduct a by-election within 90 days to refill said vacant seat, but the Commission seems to have gone outside of this stipulation.
Therefore, it would have to return to the Legislature in order to get a new electoral date for the by-elections, something, that some opposition candidates and political parties are already suspecting is a deliberate attempt by the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change to rig the polls.

THE LEAST OUR democracy wants is for voters and candidates to go to the polls, questioning the credibility of the process. The onus is on the government, particularly the NEC, to do everything within its powers to erase every doubt about the process and its outcomes.

IN ITS PRESS statement Thursday, the NEC also cited “professional considerations” for the second postponement without clearly spelling out in ABC what those “technical, operational and professional” reasons are.

NOW THE PUBLIC is left to guess and self-interpret whatever the Commission means by those statements, politics inclusive. Who should be blamed?

WE ARE HEARING that July 20 has been announced as new date for the by-elections in Montserrado County. If this is true, fine, but officials should exercise caution in their public statements or pronouncement, so as to avoid wrong impressions and interpretations.

WE ALL SEEK free, fair and peaceful elections to sustaining our current democracy rather than proceeding in ways that leave room for mistrust and fears.

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