Liberia: NEC Boss ‘Should Step Down’

Chairperson of the National Elections Commission Davidetta Browne Lansanah.

... Says Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence faction of the Liberty Party, accused the NEC chair of being  corrupt

The faction of the Liberty Party, headed by Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence of Grand Bassa County has accused the Chairperson of the National Elections Commission of being corrupt, saying “she needs to step down.” 

According to the faction,  the retention of  Davidetta Browne Lansanah at the NEC is a bad omen for free, fair, and credible elections coming next year.

“Given the corrupt nature of the Chairperson of National Elections Commission, she should step down as head of NEC to restore confidence in the Commission,” the party said in a petition to the NEC as well as diplomatic missions. “Her retention as Chair will be a bad omen for free, fair, and credible 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections.”

The petition, according to Senator Abraham Darius Dillon of Montserrado County, is the party’s last warning to NEC to ensure that the Liberty Party’s intra-party conflict that has long ensued comes to an end. Dillon is the Senator of Montserrado County.

“We will present this petition to the NE representing our view, our position as a party. We want to clarify that the commission cannot determine who serves as officers of a political party.”

“NEC has the authority to observe and regulate that every institution must operate within the confines of their own laws. NEC cannot make laws for a party,”  Dillon told Davidetta Browne Lansanah as he hand-delivered the petition. “As we submit today, please be a fair, impartial referee. You can solve this problem only if you serve as referee rather than the player we see you as.”

Dillon noted that Lansanah, being the Chairperson of the NEC has proven to be unworthy of public trust and, as such, it is time she left the post in order to provide a corridor for the conduct of free, fair, and transparent elections in 2023.

“Due to the incompetency of the Board of Commissioners and their ruling party affiliation, the party is calling for the establishment of five-member counterpart commissioners composed of Electoral Experts from ECOWAS, the African Union, and the United Nations … to jointly conduct the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections to prevent the country from returning to chaos.” 

Dillion's petition comes as the Liberty party since the death of its founder, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine suffered from internal power struggles between the party’s political leader, Lawrence, and its chairman, Musa Bility. At one point in time, both leaders expelled each other from the party.

However, the latest fight comes as Bility’s faction of the party gains recognition from the electoral body and an endorsement from Brumskine's daughter. 

In its petition to the NEC, the Lawrence faction noted that the Commission has shown that it lacks the courage to mitigate the conflict within the party, more so that Lansanah is allegedly working alongside Bility to instigate the disunity.

They noted that the NEC has failed to honor the opinion of the Supreme Court, in which it called on all parties to convene, correct the allegedly altered constitution submitted to NEC by Bility and resubmit, through Senator Lawrence and Martin Kollah, the Secretary General of the political party, “to the same Elections Commission in order to fix the conflict.”

According to the petition, the Farmington Conference and the MoU signed there resolved the constitutional crises by fixing and presenting a new version of the constitution in order for the NEC to know that the political leader, “who served as the chair of the convention, remains the face of the party rather than Bility.”

In this regard, the petition called on international partners to assist the NEC, instead of leaving the process squarely with the Commission.

“That you assist Liberia with International IT Experts to be assigned to jointly operate the Data Center in conjunction with the NEC Data Team to avoid the fraud that was associated with the 2017 Voter Registration process,” Dillion said, adding that “the Biometric Voter Registration Gadgetry should be procured by Liberia’s international partner (UNDP) and the software remains in their care to ensure fair play for all.”

“Finally, we appeal to ECOWAS and the United Nations to send a Technical Electoral Team to assess the situation at the NEC about their preparedness for the conduct of the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections,” the petition, signed by Lawrence as a political leader, concluded.

Lansanah, chairperson of the NEC received the petition from Senator Dillon without any statement. NEC, on October 27, the day prior to LP’s submission of its petition, had written a press release assuring the political party of its commitment to look into its concerns, even though those concerns have been at its (NEC) disposal for many months.