VP Taylor wants partisan magistrates at NEC
-Gongloe claims, as he opposes call
By Lewis S. Teh
Opposition Liberian People’s Party (LPP) political leader Cllr. Tiawan Saye Gongloe has risen to the defense of Magistrates at the National Elections Commission amidst calls for a shakeup at the electoral house by politicians here amongst them Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor.
Cllr. Gongloe said Vice President Howard-Taylor’s call to replace all magistrates at the NEC months before the 2023 general and presidential elections intended to remove them and replace them with partisans of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
Addressing journalists Monday, 20 February 2023, Cllr. Gongloe said he is dismayed by the Vice President’s claim that the Elections Magistrates are corrupt.
The presidential hopeful contended that it was sad for the vice president to accuse all the elections magistrates of being corrupt.
Gongloe argued that though there have been some forms of electoral disputes, the vice president has forgotten that the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government benefited from the election that these magistrates conducted.
He claimed that based on the great work that the elections magistrates did during the previous elections, one of them was elevated to the position of commissioner.
At this time, Cllr. Gongloe noted that as the country goes to a major election, it’s unacceptable for someone to seek to replace all the elections magistrates with people they can control.
According to the renowned Liberian human rights lawyer, Vice President Howard-Taylor’s statement leaves the opposition to wonder as to what she knows that the opposition doesn’t know.
“[As] I said, I really don’t know all that she said, but the statement is worrisome because this very government talks about the replacement of those magistrates,” said Cllr. Gongloe.
“And the only thing I’m seeing here is her quest to have all the elections magistrates replaced is to be sure of the election results this October,” he added.
It can be recalled that on Tuesday, 9 August 2022, President George Manneh Weah requested lawmakers to return from their break to discuss critical national issues for the period of 30 days which began on 15 August 2022 to end Tuesday, 13 September 2022.
Among others, the issues included a request for legislators to pass the amendment of the New Elections Law which called for the immediate dismissal and retirement of all elections magistrates across the country.
It came barely nine months to the presidential and legislative elections due October this year in which President George Manneh Weah is seeking a second term.
In a related development, the LPP standard bearer called on Defense Minister Daniel Ziankan to desist from making reckless statements that have the propensity to undermine the country’s peace.
According to him, the Ministry of Defense with no security authority, should not be predicting and forecasting any act of violence.
Cllr. Gongloe warned that this is counterproductive, and it undermines the country’s peace process.
“We’re trying to tighten up the peace process in this country because we are still in a peace-building process, and each citizen of Liberia, especially people in authority, should [not] be saying things that will have a chilling effect on the Liberian people,” said Cllr. Gongloe.
“I think the Minister of Defense’s statement was totally out of order. Such isn’t necessary and it shouldn’t be repeated,” he warned further.
Cllr. Gongole added that Minister Ziankahn is not the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia, saying he is a political person.
He reminded the Defense Minister that the military should be independent to defend the collective security of the country and not any special interest.
“He shouldn’t even be thinking about the military’s interventions in civil affairs so early. Even if there is a national crisis, the army might not intervene on its own,” Cllr. Gongloe argued.
Recently, Defense Minister Ziankahn vowed that the army will go after anyone crossing the red line during the electoral process.