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NEC Reaffirms Election Postponement

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The National Elections Commission (NEC) says consistent with reasons provided in its recommendation for the postponement of the October 14, 2014 Special Senatorial Election, it could not publish the list of polling centers last Saturday. Section 4.2 of the New Elections Law of Liberia mandates the Commission to publish the list of all polling centers in the country ten days prior to the conduct of any election.

In its recommendation to political authorities on the postponement of the election, the Commission stated that given the grave nature of the Ebola outbreak in the country and the effect that such disease could have on the conduct of the Special Senatorial Election, coupled with measures instituted by the government, a free, fair, and credible Special Senatorial Election on October 14, 2014 could not be possible.

Among reasons provided by the Commission included the inability of the Commission to assess the 4,701 polling centers across the country to authenticate their readiness for the October 14, 2014 Special Senatorial Election.

Other reasons provided by the Elections Commission t were its inability to recruit, train and deploy 365 civic civic/voters educators in the 73 electoral districts spread across the 15 counties of Liberia, as well as 400 electoral supervisors for the purpose of educating the electorates on the location and number of polling places in the country and the inability of the NEC to recruit, train and deploy more than 25,000 temporary polling staff in the 4,701 polling centers across the country; the inability of  its IT staff to go around the country to rehabilitate and connect internet facilities for the transmission of elections results and other elections related information; and

its inability to internationally procure ballot paper printing services for the printing of 2,640,000 ballot papers, 78,750 mock ballots and 5,000 polling kits- all of which have to be flown into the country. The timely delivery of these materials, most of which are sensitive, could not be guaranteed in the wake of the current wave of the suspension of flights to Liberia was another reason for the NEC decision.

According to the Commission, under the present circumstances, it could not authorize political parties and senatorial aspirants in particular, to conduct campaigns, given that that part of the electoral process entailed great deal of interactions, including physical contacts among candidates and their supporters, usually characterized by large gatherings.

Of highest gravity was the fact that Voters’ turn out in such atmosphere of fear and confusion could have been be very low, thereby undermining the credibility of the outcome of the election.

Overall, the Commission expressed the belief that mass movement, deployment and gathering of people, which was an inseparable characteristic of every democratic election, would not have been possible without contravening current measures put in place by the government in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease and further exposing more Liberians to the deadly disease- conditions that continue to undermine its ability to undertake major activities contained in the electoral timeline, which include the assessment and publication of the polling places.

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