Liberia’s former Finance Minister Milton Nathaniel Barnes has warned the National Elections Commission against rigging the 14 November 2023 presidential run-off between incumbent President George Manneh Weah and opposition Amb. Joseph Nyumah Boakai.
Amb. Barnes warned National Elections Commission (NEC) chairperson Davidetta Brown-Lansanah that if the election is handled in a manner that resembles the 1926 or 1985 elections, she “will seriously regret it.”
“Madam National Elections Chairman, if these elections are handled in a manner that resembles the 1926 or 1985 elections, you will seriously regret it,” the former Liberian Ambassador to the United States said ahead of the run-off.
The Liberian 1927 election that Amb. Barnes has referenced is recorded as the most rigged election ever, while many observers reported that the 1985 election was stolen by slain President Samuel Kanyon Doe.
Amb. Barnes said he knows that Madam Brown-Lansanah is a credible and professional person, adding that he expects that she will fulfill her obligation to this nation.
He reminded her that the Liberian people look up to Madam Brown-Lansanah to act, without fear or favor, and to conduct the election with the utmost credibility.
“Only one side can win in these elections; and, the Liberian people expect that the process will be free, fair, transparent, and credible if they are to accept the results,” he continued.
He implored the Liberian people to go to the polls peacefully, saying he believed that the results reflected on the tally sheets signed and stamped at the polling place would not be different from the results announced by the NEC Board of Commissioners.
He noted that the crux of the election’s credibility is in the effective handling of the polls, stating that he expects that the NEC workers, voter verifiers, and ballot issuers, among others, will stick to the rules as
meticulously as possible.
“If there is an opportunity for either side to gain an unfair upper hand during the process aided by NEC workers and/or officials, the situation will create serious chaos which would be very, very unfortunate,” Amb. Barnes warned the commission.
The Liberian diplomat said he firmly believes that, if the elections are handled in a very free, fair, transparent, and credible manner, nobody will make noise.
Additionally, he said if the NEC closely adheres to the election laws, guidelines, and regulations, as is expected, the outcome will be free, fair, transparent, and credible.
Amb. Barnes suggested that the Liberian people would sleep in peace and accept a result that is consistent with the exact outcome of what transpired at every polling place throughout the country.
“We cannot be more grateful to the international community and our friends for their continued support for the strengthening of our fledgling democracy,” said Amb. Barnes.
After about twenty years of sustained peace, Amb. Barnes said Liberia cannot afford to slip off track.
“Fellow Liberians, there is nothing that anyone of us can lose if the elections are conducted in keeping with the law,” he pleaded.
He admonished the two contending political parties contesting the run-off election to man the polls with the best poll watchers they can lay their hands on.