The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) says if the National Elections Commission (NEC) is to cultivate public confidence in the upcoming electoral exercises, then the commission should not only ensure that all the phases of the electoral process are executed in a more transparent manner, but also within the confines of the laws governing the elections.
At a press conference in Monrovia on Friday, the ECC urged the NEC to ensure that none of the country’s laws are circumvented but rather adhered to by all stakeholders, especially political parties and independent candidates—with specific reference to the Constitution (Article 83d).
ECC chairman Oscar Bloh called on the NEC to prevail upon all registered political parties who have not submitted detailed statements of assets and liabilities and published same in the local dailies, in compliance with Article 83(d) of the Liberian Constitution, to do so before the elections are held. The submission and publication of assets and liability statements, according to the electoral laws, should be done before September 1. “In furtherance of this provision, every candidate should, not later than 30 days prior to the holding of an election, submit to the NEC similar statements mentioned above,” Mr. Bloh said.
The provision also requires that the detailed statements should include sources of funds and other assets, plus list expenditures. Where the filing of such statement is made in an election year, every party and individual concerned should be required to file with the NEC additional supplementary statements of all funds received and their expenditures from the date of filing the original statements to the date of the elections.
“We need to critically look at the issue of campaign financing in these elections because we don’t want illegal funds infiltrating the process. We want a very clean and fair electoral process that will not give one candidate advantage over the others. The NEC needs to make sure that the political parties comply with this law,” Bloh said.
The ECC noted that although the NEC has certificated the political parties and independent candidates to contest the elections, they are still operating under the jurisdiction of the commission, and accordingly, the NEC should enforce this constitutional provision and take all appropriate punitive actions against those in violation of the laws, statutes, and regulations.
Another issue that the ECC has also stressed is the publication of the final voter roll listing. There, many continue to call on the NEC to release the full final listing. With 35 days to elections, this is the first time in recent elections that the voter roll is yet to be made public. The releasing of the VR, many believe, should not be optional for the NEC as it is mandated by the country’s electoral laws. The VR, according to the laws, should have been released before the start of campaign activities.
Meanwhile, since campaign activities began a little over a month ago, there has been no report of violence; and as result, the ECC commended political parties and independent candidates and their supporters for conducting themselves in a peaceful manner. “The peaceful activities of the political parties and their supporters and the professional works of the LNP were observed by ECC’s observers deployed in all of the 73 electoral districts across the country,” he said.
More campaign rallies will be held during this month leading to the week of October 10, therefore, the ECC called on stakeholders, especially the political parties, LNP and the media, to continue on this course of a civil and issues-based campaign discourse.
The ECC reemphasized that political parties should provide their campaign timetable to the NEC, the LNP, and the county authorities so that the use of public facilities for campaign purposes do not create unnecessary tension.
To also ensure a free, fair, transparent, credible and peaceful election, the ECC called on all political parties and independent candidates to invest more time and resources to adequately train their agents who will be deployed to observe the elections, and the counting and tallying of the results. The group also commended the government and its development partners for the level of financial support so far to the NEC. “We are aware that the government is responding to competing needs that require financial resources but we encourage the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to prioritize resources for the NEC. This should be done so that this smooth and political transition that we all desire can be realized.”
The ECC is the largest civil society platform that observes elections in Liberia and works in partnership with the National Democratic Institute. The ECC is supported by USAID and OSIWA.