-Amidst VRU Fraud
The Collaborating Opposition Political Parties (CPP), a conglomeration of four major political parties in Liberia, has disclosed that it is taking the National Elections Commission (NEC) to the Supreme Court on Friday, September 25, to file a Petition for a Writ of Prohibition calling for an immediate halt and cancellation of the ongoing Voter Roll Update (VRU) exercises until the issues which border on the credibility of the elections are fully addressed.
The CPP comprises the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Liberty Party (LP), Unity Party (UP) and the All Liberian Party (ALP).
CPP Chairman and political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Alexander B. Cummings, reading the statement at a press conference on September 23, 2020 said: “On Friday of this week, our lawyers will file a Petition for the Writ of Prohibition before the Supreme Court calling for an immediate halt and cancellation of the ongoing Voter Roll Update Exercises until these issues which border on the credibility of the elections are fully addressed. We ask all of our supporters to assemble at the Headquarters of the Liberty Party at 10 a.m. on Friday for a special march to the Temple of Justice, where the action will be filed,” the statement said.
He said the huge fraud is a clever attempt of the CDC-led government to derail the peace and stability of the country, adding that it is evident in every decision that they have made, which brings shame and anger to people.
Cummings said the CPP will conduct a comprehensive awareness campaign across the country to inform Liberians in every town, village and hamlet about the danger of what the CDC-led government and its Elections Commissioners are doing with these elections.
“We will ensure that our people are aware of their plans to rig the elections and cause election disputes across our country,” he said.
Cummings added: “Over the past few days our country has been the subject of local and international disrepute as we witness several sad and dramatic scandals that are characteristics of the CDC-led government and clearly inimical to the image, peace and security of our country. These include the ongoing health workers strike and the Passport saga.
“This is absurd and unacceptable! We will be addressing that and other issues in a subsequent statement to be published as our focus today is on the fraudulent and irregular electoral process which is the most imminent danger to our peace and security. In closing, the CPP wants to re-emphasize that it remains committed to our peace and stability but will not sit idly and allow evil to triumph at the detriment of our people. The integrity of our elections, the image of our country and the peace we all fought for must be protected,” he said.
The issues of voters trucking and multiple registration have become serious concerns since the Voter Roll Update (VRU) process commenced on September 21, 2020, with Cape Mount and Bomi being hot spots in recent days.
Reports gathered indicate that the trucking of voters has not been limited to Liberia, but citizens from neighboring countries, particularly Sierra Leone, have reportedly been brought in to support a particular candidate in the impending senatorial election.
The voter trucking led to violent tension recently in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties, resulting in multiple injuries because residents believed that bringing in strangers to register in different counties is a major contributing factor of electing bad leaders.
Mr. Luther Dean, Bomi County electoral magistrate, confirmed that he had received complaints from residents that voters were being trucked mainly from Monrovia and neighboring Sierra Leone, but the facts about which politicians are involved are yet to be established.
Davidetta Browne Lansanah, Acting Chairperson of the National Elections Commission said the NEC is deeply concerned about reports of voter trucking.
“We wish to reiterate that trucking is prohibited under Chapter 10.1(a) of the New Elections Law and is punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment of up to six months.
While the NEC is not clothed with authority to impose criminal penalties, the Commission frowns on the trucking of citizens for political purposes and calls on all involved in this practice to immediately desist,” she said.
Browne Lansanah also said: “let it be known that a person who is trucked to another area is also in violation of Chapter 3 of the New Elections Law, which states that a person must register to vote in the area where he or she ordinarily resides.”
She said the NEC has put in place a measure to remedy multiple registrations by those she described as ‘criminal-minded people.’
Many election monitoring bodies including the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) and experts have questioned the credibility of the VRU process, calling on NEC to cancel the entire process.
“An election is not an event but a process and, as such, an election can only be considered credible if the processes leading to the conduct of the polls are transparent. But regrettably, the preparations leading to the conduct of the pending Special Senatorial Election are not transparent,” an NGO of elections experts operating under the name, Center for Development and Elections Management (CEDEM) have said.
It may be recalled that the late political leader of the Liberty Party, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, took to the Supreme Court the outcome of the first round of the 2017 Presidential Election on account of election fraud and irregularities.
The Supreme Court acknowledged that the elections were marred by frauds but were not egregious to constitute a rerun. The Court, however, issued specific instructions to the National Elections Commission (NEC) to clean the voter roll; something that the NEC is yet to comply with since 2017.
The CPP says up to last year the NEC had taken no substantial steps in cleaning the Voter Roll, thus necessitating the Liberian Senate to cite the NEC Board of Commissioners to provide updates on their compliance with the Supreme Court Ruling.
The CPP statement added that during the hearing, the commissioners of NEC expressed their commitment to adhere to the mandate of the High Court, but the time and circumstances have proven that that commitment was a facade.
Cummings, on behalf of the CPP said they have made several attempts to work with the NEC to have the Voter Roll cleaned, but to no avail “As NEC technicians failed to work with our technical representatives.”
“On September 10, 2020, we wrote to the Board of Commissioners of the NEC, expressing our disappointment over the manner in which the commission was proceeding with the processes leading up to the December 8, 2020 Senatorial elections. We highlighted the postponement of the Special Senatorial Elections from October to December and the lack of cooperation with political parties, among others. We also proffered several recommendations to NEC to ensure that the elections are conducted by best international practices,” Cummings said.
“Among those recommendations,” he said “We re-emphasized our demand for the clean-up of the Voter Roll as mandated by the Supreme Court and the June 2020 Resolution of the Legislature. We urged the NEC to put in place a rigorous citizenship verification policy to avert what is now happening in Cape Mount, Maryland, Grand Gedeh where foreigners are said to be brought into our country by unscrupulous politicians to participate in our electoral process. We also urged the NEC to revert to the stationary voter registration exercise instead of the planned mobile voter registration exercise. However, all of our recommendations clearly fell on deaf ears,” Mr. Cummings said on behalf of the CPP.