Invites NEC and others for clarification
By Ethel A Tweh
Members of the Liberian Senates have frowned on the National Elections Commission (NEC) for its attempt to introduce a biometric voting system in 2023 Presidential and General Elections.
Bomi County Senator Edwin M. Snowe, who is a member of the ECOWAS Parliament, recalled that in 2017, he headed the ECOWAS Mission to Nigeria to observe elections where a biometric voting system was introduced, but it failed on polling day due to lack of card reader.
He said there were places without networks, amongst others so Nigeria had to revert to manual voting.
Senator Snowe also notes that Sierra Leone used US$ 8 Million on the process with a population of about 8 million people, but the NEC is requesting US$11 million in Liberia with a population of 4.5 million, adding that Togo as well did the same biometric voting system that failed them.
Snowe, who heads the ECOWAS Parliamentary committee on security, reveals that there is chaos in Sierra Leone because of the process.
“I think it’s important for NEC to educate the citizens on what they intend to do. One version of NEC says they will do biometric registration and manual voting. We do not have internet connectivity for such process. The money is too much and NEC needs to tell us how they intend to carry on the process for next year’s election.” He emphasizes.
River Gee County Senator Jonathan Boycharles Sogbie said the National Elections Commission has awarded contract for the biometric system to a Chinese company.
The NEC has been told by the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) to launch a new bid for the provider
However, he said the process should pass through the Public Procurement & Concessions Commission for bidding and Liberian-owned companies should be part of the process.
The chairperson of the senate committee on Autonomous Agency, Senator Henrique Togba of Bong County says he is not in the know of the National Elections Commission awarding the contract to a Chinese company. He said as chairman of the committee, he has oversight responsibility over NEC and he should be in the know.
Senator Jonathan L. Kaipay of Grand Bassa County said that the issue is a critical one and it needs to be handled carefully.
Senator Kaipay then moved that though the Senate was to close on Tuesday, September 13, they should extend to a day or two to invite NEC, political parties and other relevant authorities to discuss the matter.
In this light, the Senate has extended their closing to Friday, September 16 and has cited the NEC and other authorities to appear before the Senate that will turn into a committee of a whole to thoroughly address concerns raised against the biometric voting system, the first in Liberia. Editing by Jonathan Browne