On Friday, August 14, 2015, we published a front page lead story – RED FLAG HANFS OVER 2017, against the backdrop of a concern about the inability of the current Board of Commissioners and entire National Elections Commission or NEC to conduct free, fair and transparent general and Presidential elections in 2017.
The concern – attributed to Bong County Representative George Mulbah, criticized the entire workforce, including the Board of Commissioners of NEC for electoral discrepancies in last December’s Special Senatorial election, describing the recent opinion of the Supreme Court of Liberia as channel that exposes the weakness of the commission.
In its opinion, the Supreme Court recently ordered the Election Commission to re-run, in 60 days, the election in Electoral District Number Seven in Bong County, after lawyers representing Candidate HeenriqueFlomoTokpa sought its intervention following NEC’s failure to address their clients complaint about electoral mal-practices by the Commission’s staff in favor of Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor during the poll.
Representative Mulbah described the action to cheat in the mentioned areas in favor of Senator Taylor during the December 20, 2014 Special Senatorial Elections as a clear indication that the current Board of Commissioners are unable to conduct the 2017 Presidential and Legislative Elections under a peaceful atmosphere in the country.
The Bong County Representative further warned that any attempt to maintain the current workforce, including Commissioners, is a recipe for chaos and battles during and following the elections.
The foregoing issue is the latest of a number of eye-brows being raised at NEC officials and staff for alleged biases, lack of independence and inability to perform such important national task without plunging the country into violent chaos again, considering the anticipated tense nature of the 2017 electoral process.
The election commission is on record for allegedly either down-playing complaint filed against its field staff or ruling in favor of candidates it earlier declared winners – a situation that led many to the Supreme Court of Liberia.
Whatever the situation may be, it is important that the appointing power – the President of Liberia, lend a listening taste to these expressed concerns by individual and political parties. Such listening taste entails an independent investigation and reliance on opinions of the highest court of the land – the Supreme Court of Liberia.
With these expressed calls, concerns and warnings, it is important that we arrest all threats to electoral violence now – wherever they are at the National Elections Commission or elsewhere before it is too late. While we do acknowledge the fact that some may have hidden agendas and may want to capitalize on the weaknesses of NEC to pursue such, a careful investigation and analysis of the results measurable with the opinions of the Supreme Court must push the President towards a decision in the national security interest and peace of Liberia.
Towards this, Madam President must avoid or neutralize the usual ‘blame-game’ against her by some members of the public, by ensuring a decision on the elections commission that would mean well for her legacy and the interest of the Liberian nation.