Political parties in Liberia have rejected the National Elections Commission (NEC’s) plea with the Liberian Senate to push the conduct of the pending special senatorial election to December this year, instead of October, warning that postponing the election will cause uncertainties and insecurities in the country.
The political parties voiced their opposition to the proposed delay of the election during a hearing at the Senate Wednesday, 27 May on Capitol Hill after the acting chairperson of NEC’s Board of Commissioners Madam Davidetta Lansana disclosed last week that the commission lacked funding to conduct the special senatorial election.
According to Madam Lansana, due to the financial difficulty, the NEC has failed to meet up with a timetable set for the smooth conduct of the 2020 special senatorial poll which is due in October.
The NEC has pleaded with the Liberian Senate to extend the conduct of the midterm senatorial election to December that is to be held October 13, 2020, instead of October.
Making the case for the postponement of the election, NEC Acting Chair of the Board of Commissioners Madam Lansanah says the coronavirus pandemic has caused a delay in their workings, noting that most of their materials come from out of the country.
Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Senator Varney Sherman, Madam Lansana discloses that it will take time for the NEC to order the materials from China or other vendors.
She pleads with the Senate for the senatorial election to be held in December instead of October.
Following the NEC’s disclosure last week, the Liberian Senate invited representatives of the political parties here to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee in order to get their views on the request to extend the midterm senatorial elections.
Representing the Alternative National Congress, a constituent party of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), Atty. Lafayette Horatio Gould demands that the election should be held in October as constituted.
He argues that the Election Commission and the Government of Liberia should have been prepared ahead of time, taking into consideration that there could have been any outbreak or other circumstance.
Gould claims that the NEC has not been getting the political parties involved with its activities which include the cleaning of the voter roll, among others.
But the NEC acting chair Madam Lansana subsequently refutes Gould’s claim that the political parties have not been involved in the NEC’s activities, noting that NEC trained political parties’ agents, and involved political parties in the cleaning of the 2017 voter roll and the Montserrado bye – elections.
Notwithstanding, Atty. Gould contends that postponement of the election will cause uncertainties and insecurities in the country, maintaining that the election should be held October 13, 2020.
He expresses a fear that the Elections Commission wants to use the Legislature to violate the Constitution, saying: “NEC is up for trouble and we are not prepared for that.”
Atty. Cole Bangalore who represented the Unity Party, a CPP constituent party, says insists that the election should be held on October 13 this year, cautioning that the Senate will be setting a bad precedent in the country if there is any attempt to extend the election date.
Also representing another CPP constituent party, Mr. Theodore Momo who chairs the All Liberian Party (ALP) rejects the proposal for the postponement of the senatorial midterm election.
Meanwhile, the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) chairman MulbahMorlu says the CDC is ready and prepared for any date the election falls on within 2020, but notes that it shouldn’t extend beyond 2020.
Mr. Morlu indicates that if NEC is unable to hold election in October, the CDC is prepared for December, but it shouldn’t extend beyond 2020.
By Ethel A. Tweh–Edited by Winston W. Parley