…Says exclusion of registered voters from runoff polls ‘breeds constitutional conflict’
The Better Future Foundation (BFF), a civil society organization, has expressed serious concerns with respect to the new date set by the National Elections Commission (NEC) for the conduct of the presidential runoff election without first publishing and/or exhibiting the Final Registration Roll (FRR) for its verification and validation by electorates and other stakeholders.
In a press release issued in Monrovia over the weekend, BFF said to erase any iota of suspicion and to guarantee a free, fair, transparent and credible runoff election on December 26, which outcome would be free of protests and other demonstrations contrary to what the nation experienced in the first round of the presidential and legislative elections on October 10, the NEC must immediately exhibit the FRR at polling places and magisterial centers across the country.
The release quoted BFF President Augustine Arkoi as saying that the exhibition of the FRR by the National Elections Commission (NEC) would not only increase public confidence in the operations of the NEC but also enable eligible voters who obtained valid voter cards without their names and other key elements of identity reflected in the FRR during the first round of the presidential and legislative elections to be included for their smooth participation in the scheduled presidential runoff.
According to BFF, it would be a gross violation of the constitutional right of any Liberian of voting age with a valid voting card who participated in the October 10 polls to be denied casting his/her ballot in the pending runoff elections on grounds that said voter’s name could not be traced in the FRR and under the pretext of “cleaning up the Final Voter Roll.”
The civil society group stressed that the rejection of such eligible Liberians who have demonstrated their desire and determination to participate in the choosing of Liberia’s new political leadership through the democratic process would not only undermine the credibility and integrity of the pending runoff but also serve as an incentive for other unintended constitutional conflicts with potential to threaten the nation’s already fragile peace.
Additionally, the BFF release indicated that the exclusion or marginalization of officially registered voters from the pending runoff elections after their participation in the first round of the polls as evidenced by their possession of valid NEC voter ID cards, and not based on their negligence or faults, would be a gross infringement on their basic rights to political participation, as provided for in Article 3 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, which states that: “A Liberian citizen who has attained the age of 18 years or older may register as a voter except one who has been judicially declared to be incompetent, or of unsound mind, or who have been disenfranchised as a result of a conviction of an infamous crime and has not been restored to citizenship.”
Meanwhile, BFF called on all Liberians, including the governing Unity Party (UP) and the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) to engage in regular face-to-face dialogues before, during and after the runoff polls in the supreme interest of all Liberians and for sustainable peace and stability of the country, “and to ensure smooth transition of political power within the framework of the nation’s constitution.”
BFF is the proponent of the “Liberia Democracy Sustainability Platform” (DSP), which primarily seeks to inspire national consensus building to accelerate improved human security relations, human rights and respect for the rule of law, and promote infrastructural development for sustainable peace and democratic governance in Liberia and the sub-region.