Who does Jefferson Koijee think he is? We ask this poignant question since Koijee, the Secretary General of the Ruling Party, has the audacity to claim that President Weah has won his reelection bid when the fact is clear that the October 10 polls are headed to a run-off.
Koijee’s premature assertion of victory on October 17 in front of hundreds of Liberians at the ruling party headquarters is, at best, not a matter of political rhetoric but a demonstration of a high degree of recklessness and a lack of respect for the truth. At worst, it reflects his alarming disdain for the integrity and independence of the National Elections Commission, which is striving to uphold the will of the Liberian people as expressed through the vote.
His words, “Everything is in order. Let’s get ready for the inauguration. We want to celebrate like never before,” are not just a hasty and premature celebration of victory but are done with calculated attempts to unduly influence the elections and potentially disrupt the peace. If he had succeeded, it would have set a dangerous precedent for future elections in Liberia.
Koijee would also go on to say, “This victory belongs to you. You worked for it. We will bring the inauguration committee to your doorstep. All the necessary arrangements are in progress for the inauguration and our victory parade.”
This diabolical lie from Koijee, which has created an illusion in the minds of the President’s supporters of victory, is far from the reality, as election results clearly indicate a narrow margin between the President and his primary rival, Joseph Boakai.
To be fair, we are not unaware of similar claims of victory by the Unity Party — without proof. We call on all political parties to shoulder their equal share of the responsibility to maintain the peace during these times of tension as public safety and the security of the state remain paramount. The NEC has legal procedures in place to address any complaints of discrepancies or irregularities during the entire electoral process.
The NEC’s responsibility, however, is to live up to its promise of transparency — which also means avoidance of unnecessary delays in the release of information without being pressured by the public to do so. The chatter on social media suggests dangerous suspicion that such delays are intended to help the ruling party buy time to cheat. Case in point was the delay in the release of the final result of the Representative election for Montserrado County District #8 election. Considering that the incumbent for this district, like his fellow partisan Koijee, prematurely declared victory and announced a celebratory parade — which was based on complete falsehood — can the NEC give the public an honest and justifiable reason why it held on to those results for so long?
With 99.9 percent of the polling places counted so far, Weah has accumulated a vote of 803,674, constituting 43.84%, while Boakai closely follows with a vote of 796,313, constituting 43.44%, according to the October 18 data from the National Elections Commission. The difference is 7,361, which clearly indicates that a runoff election, which the National Elections Commission is expected to announce soon, is the natural course of action to determine the final outcome of the October 10 polls.
Yet, despite these facts, Koijee is parading lies with the sole intent of eroding trust in the country’s electoral process. The NEC should not allow this, for its credibility hinges on its ability to operate independently and without political interference.
To the entire NEC Board of Commissioners and staff: the essence of being an integrity institution is that, regardless of where your funding and other support come from, you are obligated to serve incumbent and opposition candidates, as well as the electorate, without preference to either side.
In any functioning democracy, trust in the electoral body is of paramount importance. Citizens must believe that their votes will be counted fairly and that the electoral process is free from undue influence. When political leaders make unfounded claims and attempt to prematurely declare victory, it can create confusion and doubt among the citizenry. But when a high-ranking official like Koijee, who is associated with the ruling party, prematurely declares victory, it fosters mistrust in the electoral system, which in most cases would lead to disillusionment and disengagement among the electorate.
Additionally, Koijee’s actions may incite political tension and potentially lead to civil unrest since premature claims of victory, especially in a closely contested election, can create an atmosphere of uncertainty and unrest, something Liberia can ill afford, given its history.
Therefore, we will not let go of Koijee without condemning him, even if others will not do so. He deserves every condemnation for his words which, if left unchecked, could become a recurring pattern employed by any ruling party, making it increasingly difficult for the Liberian people to have faith in the electoral process.
Koije’s actions also reveal his disconcerting contempt for democratic principles. Democracy is not just about holding elections; it is about respecting the rule of law, upholding the independence of institutions, and allowing the people to express their will freely. Liberia has come a long way in its pursuit of peace and democracy, and it is imperative that its leaders, including Koijee, respect the will of the people and the rule of law to ensure peace and stability in the country.