After days of speculation in media outlets that the National Port Authority (NPA) has paid or planning to pay the sum of US$40,000 to the National Elections Commission (NEC) for a recount in Rivercess County following a mandate from the Supreme Court, the Commission has rejected the report and said it is “Untrue” and that it has no business with NPA or any other entity to fund election processes except the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP).
At a press conference held over the weekend at its headquarters in Monrovia, the NEC, through its chairperson, Davidetta Browne Lansanah, said it is the prerogative of the Ministry of Finance to fund all national elections through direct budgetary support or through partners of government.
“The NEC wishes to categorically deny these reports and inform the Liberian people that it has never been approached by authorities of the NPA or anyone on such issue. Besides, the NEC does not receive funds for electoral activities from private entities or individual citizens. Funding for elections is the sole responsibility of the Government of Liberia, which sometimes requests donor partners to assist the Commission,” Madam Lansanah told journalists.
- She added: “Following the decision of the Board of Commissioners to recount the ballots in 104 polling places across Rivercess County, the NEC, being cognizant of the Government’s responsibility to finance elections, developed a proposed budget for the exercise in the tone of Fifty-eight Thousand Fourteen United States Dollars (US$58,014) and submitted it to authorities at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to source funding in the event the Supreme Court upheld the Board’s ruling.
This preemptive action of the NEC was necessary given the that fact Government’s sourcing of funds to the NEC requires sufficient time for the NEC to receive the fund in time for the implementation of any electoral activity.”
The NEC chairperson said the Commission remains committed to adhering to the rule of law and ensuring that transparency and credibility, among many other principles of good democratic processes, mainly elections, remain the core values of its work.
“The NEC assures you of its continued commitment to administering all electoral activities in credible, transparent, and accountable manner, guided fully by the constitution and electoral laws. The NEC will do nothing, whatsoever, to circumvent these laws,” Madam Lansanah assured.
Nimba Senate election dispute, other, Reserved to be delivered soon
The Board of Commissioners (BoC) of the National Elections Commission (NEC) has meanwhile heard the Nimba post Senate election dispute between Jeremiah Koung and Edith Gonglo-Weh, two main contenders, and reserved ruling that is expected to be delivered this week.
Jeremiah Koung, Representative of Nimba Electoral District #1 contested on the ticket of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) of former warlord and Nimba County Senator Prince Y. Johnson, while Madam Edith Gongloe-Weh contested on the ticket of the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP).
After the December 8, 2020 polls, Madam Weh filed a complaint to the Elections Magistrate’s office in Sanniquellie, claiming fraud and threats as well as intimidation on her supporters by supporters of Koung. The hearing officer of NEC had gone through the case and upheld the result of the election giving victory to Koung.
The matter which began in Nimba was transfered to Monrovia on request of Madam Weh’s legal Counsel. Their claim, as reported to the NEC hearing office in Monrovia, was that the Sanniquellie office was not safe enough to have carried on the hearing.
Cllr. Boakai Harris, a member of the NEC legal team andHearing officer in the case on Monday, February 22, 2021, said his office having gone through all of the pieces of evidence submitted by each of the contending parties, coupled with witnesses’ testimonies, he found no fraud committed or any other action that may call for a recount or a rerun as craved for by Gonglow-Weh and her supporters.
Following ruling, however, Madam Gongloe-Weh’s legal team took exception and filed an appeal to the Board of Commissioners of the NEC as provided for under the New Election Law.