– NEC Chairman Korkoya, Commissioners assure Senate; but reserves final decision for Thursday
Although haunting questions abound about its adherence to the Supreme Court’s mandate, the Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Cllr Jerome Korkoya, has assured the Liberian Senate that his Commission will work strictly in line with the 8-count mandate of the Supreme Court, adding that it will be fully complied with for the December 26, 2017 presidential runoff election.
Cllr. Korkoya’s assurance to the Senate yesterday came after he and four of his Commissioners had undergone several hours of repeated grilling by members of the Senate in open plenary.
The question of whether the NEC has the authority to set the date for the runoff election was one of the sticky issues, but Chairman Korkoya informed the Senate that as the Supreme Court is expected to rule on the issue, it would be prejudicial if he commented on same.
On whether he and his Commissioners are credible enough to conduct the runoff, Korkoya said: “The Commission is credible and has demonstrated that over the years. We are cleaning the Final Registration Roll through manual means which is, as expected, tedious; but, we will have it completed and printed as mandated by the Supreme Court ruling.”
Korkoya assured that the NEC and ECOWAS technical team are working non-stop through the cooperation of the two contending parties – the Unity Party and the Coalition for Democratic Change.
The Senate, however, failed to vote on a motion proffered by Grand Bassa Senator Jonathan Kaipay, whose motion called on the plenary to note explanations and assurances by the NEC officials. He also moved that the Senate Committee on Autonomous Commissions and Agencies continues to work with the NEC to ensure that the timetable for the runoff is met.
Although that motion was rejected by a vote of 11-5, heated arguments ensued for several minutes, forcing President Pro-temp Armah Jallah to rule for an adjournment. Korkoya and his Commissioners, still under oath, are scheduled to return to the Capitol on Thursday.
In its 8-count mandate recently, the Supreme Court ruled that the NEC should publish and make available the Final Registration Roll (FRR) to all electoral magistrates for subsequent display at all polling places across the country; cleanup the FRR, wherein persons whose names were not on same should not be allowed to to vote; the addendum to the FRR be limited to those within the NEC polling and counting manual; and officials of NEC should refrain from making utterances on matters growing out of the runoff election, which would likely be issues of possible future electoral disputes, among others.
Meanwhile, reports quoting sources in Lofa have revealed that contrary to assertions by NEC Chairman Korkoya that the cleanup of the FRR was still in progress, printed copies of the FRR are already on display at several centers in Lofa County.
One such center is located in the town of Taneniahun situated about five kilometers from Kolahun, Lofa County.
According to Joseph Farkollie, a former employee of the Ministry of Finance Excise Tax Division who hails from the area, his name as well as those of others have, since the October 10 elections, been omitted from the FRR, with no explanations forthcoming from the NEC. He declared that he also has information that the FRR was also on display in Kolahun and Voinjama.
When the Daily Observer contacted NEC Public Relations Officer Henry Flomo for comments on this, he hurriedly replied that he could not speak on the matter, but promised to get back to this reporter as soon as he received information on the matter.
Investigation into these developments are continuing; however, it remains unclear whether the parties have given their approbation to this latest development.
NEC Executive Director Lamin Lighe confirmed to the Daily Observer the FRR display in Lofa. “That is correct,” he said, adding, “As we have always said, this is a process,” in which both political parties to the runoff election are involved. According to him, the FRR is being released in portions, and that the portion for Montserrado County is expected to be released today (Dec. 20).