Liberia’s ruling Unity Party (UP) is requesting the Supreme Court to issue another stay order against the conduct of a presidential runoff scheduled by the National Elections Commission (NEC) for 26 December, informing the Court that NEC has failed to clean-up the Final Registration Roll (FRR) as mandated.
The UP and opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) are due to meet at a runoff scheduled by the Commission for 26 December, following an alleged elections fraud and irregularities case filed by opposition Liberty Party (LP) against the NEC that initially stalled the runoff originally due on 7 November.
In a number of requests made in the Bill of Information filed Thursday morning, 14 December, the UP asks the Supreme Court to stay the runoff, rule that NEC lacks authority to set December 26 as new date for runoff election; and order that for the purpose of the runoff election the FRR given by the NEC to political parties in September 2017 shall be considered as a “Provisional Voters Roll” which shall be cleaned, sanitized and published in the manner dictated by the Court.
The UP backed LP’s case that halted the 7 November runoff elections, but the NEC and the Supreme Court refused to grant LP’s request for a rerun of the entire polls, though the Court acknowledged irregularities occurred to some extent in the October polls challenged by the two parties.
In the Bill of Information, the UP says NEC Chairman Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya “created the impression that the FRR is cleaned, something the UP says defies the Supreme Court’s opinion and judgment.” It asks the Court to order that Chairman Korkoya and NEC’s Executive Director be disqualified from participating in anything regarding the runoff.
The Bill of Information claims that during meeting with the NEC on 9 December, the UP and CDC had underscored the need for the cleaning of the FRR prior to the conduct of the runoff election as a matter of compelling necessity.
But the UP claims that as the meeting became intense on the matter of cleaning – up the FRR, Cllr. Korkoya allegedly ended the meeting in a rather abrupt manner with a promise that he would have cited the parties to another meeting.”Up to the filing of this Information, Respondent NEC has failed, neglected and refused to cite the parties to a meeting,” the UP alleges.
In an effort move the process forward, the UP says its representatives and CDC representatives met on Sunday, 10 December and agreed on what full cleaning – up of the FRR shall entail and reduced the agreement into writing and submitted it to the NEC as their recommendation regarding the FRR cleanup process.
But the party says NEC has failed to react to the recommendation allegedly submitted by the two parties due to meet in the runoff and did not call them into a meeting to discuss it. It says the NEC instead announced on Tuesday, 12 December that the pending presidential runoff would be conducted on Tuesday, 26 December.
Upon the NEC’s pronouncement, the UP says it immediately registered its objection, claiming that NEC’s announcement of the date for the runoff constitutes an irregular and improper execution of the Supreme Court’s mandate.
The UP contends that the opinion of the Supreme Court calls for collaboration and consultation in NEC’s cleaning up of the FRR with the UP and CDC, accusing the Commission of failing to exercise such collaboration and consultation in spite of repeated demands made on the NEC by the two political parties.
The UP wants the Court to order that ballots for the runoff polls carry serial numbers on each ballot stub corresponding to the serial number on the ballot itself in order to preserve the integrity of the ballots in the runoff.
It requests the Court to order that 15 days be allowed NEC’s publication of the cleaned and sanitized FRR; and order consistent with Elections Law that provides that the FRR shall not be altered within 30 days immediately before an election, after the 15 days public inspection period of the cleaned and sanitized FRR has expired, an additional 30 days shall lapse before the runoff election shall be conducted by the NEC.
By Winston W. Parley