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Senatorial election in limbo

-Senate cites Finance Boss

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The 2020 midterm senatorial elections scheduled for October is in a limbo due to lack of funds to support the electoral budget of US$20 million submitted by the National Elections Commission, NEC Chairman Cllr. Jerome Korkoya told the
Liberian Senate Tuesday.

Appearing before the Senate, Chairman Korkoya and the NEC Board of Commissioners explain the US$20milliom for both referendum and the elections was reduced to US$17 million.

He says the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning issued a commitment letter to the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) of US$7million as initial cost for pre-electoral activities, covering voter roll and assessment of various precincts, but the NEC has not received a dime.

Chairman Korkoya continues that assessment to various precincts is important to enable the Commission establish if they are still suitable for the electoral process, noting that most of those precincts are privatively owned, and if they would still have access to them this year.

He informs the Senate the Commission has not placed any order for voter
registration materials, adding, the voter registration process should have been January, but was postponed to February, and now is being carried to March because of lack of money.

However, majority senators ask whether elections would be held in October and if they would be credible in the face of delays in the preparatory process.

River Gee County Senator Commany B. Wesseh, from the opposition Unity Party says, the NEC is not to be blamed for the delay, noting, the commissioners have appeared before the Senate and everything that should be done for the preparation has been done but there’s no money to carry out their functions, and NEC has informed the Legislature and the Executive.

Senator Wesseh emphasizes the senatorial elections are constitutional and cannot be carried to another date, saying, if these polls were not held in October as required by law, this means there will be no senate because 15 senators will not constitute a quorum to conduct business, and that there will be no government, if one branch of government is inactive.

In view of this backdrop, Bomi County Senator Morris Saytumah, moves that the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel D. Tweah, Jr, should appear before plenary of the Liberian Senate tomorrow, Thursday, February 27, to give reasons why the NEC has not been provided money to carry out their duties as per the Constitution.

It may be recalled the FY 2019/20 National Budget approved by the National Legislature didn’t contain allotments for the conduct of the midterm senatorial elections or referendum in October 2020.By Ethel A. Tweh