The outgoing Executive Director of the National Elections Commission (NEC), John K. Langley, has expressed fear that the Commission may encounter difficulties on the way if appropriate issues that are supposed to lead to a successful conduct of the special senatorial elections are not addressed as soon as possible.
Mr. Langley noted that the timeline for the conduct of the election is fast approaching and the Commission is yet to prepare logistically and technically for this national task.
“Manpower is yet to be recruited and mobilized to carry out the electoral exercises, due to financial and technical constraints,” he stated.
The ex-NEC boss spoke on Monday November 4, at his honoring ceremony, at which he turned over his position to the incoming NEC executive Director, Lamin Lighe in the James Fromayan Conference Hall at the NEC.
Mr. Langley, who served the NEC for over 29 years, said that the Commission has a limited time which is about three months to up-date voters’ registration in all of the 15 counties which he said it will be a tedious undertaking. He also highlighted the issues of civic voters’ education and the procurement of electoral logistics, which the Commission is yet to address as major obstacles that may stand in the way of the election if much resources, time, and attention are not committed.
“I see many Liberians giving little attention to this upcoming election because most of them are saying that it is not a major election, but I want to dispel this notion as this special senatorial election is a major one in many ways. We will be using the same amount of logistics and manpower. We are talking about the same amount of ballot boxes and papers precincts and many more. We need to start getting nervous here because time is not in our favor,” he said.
“This commission has come a very long way and there are many reforms that we have initiated that are helping us move this entity forward smoothly. When you look at where we are and where we were some years back you will realize that great improvement have been made. Election is a bridge between stability and chaos because when it ends on a bad note it creates chaos and when it is successfully done as we have been doing in recent time, we see stability. All over the world, an election is considered a sensitive issue.”
“So we want to call on our partners and stakeholders to help us work assiduously to make sure we have this special election done successfully.
Meanwhile, the new NEC Executive Director, Mr. Lamin Lighe said that the NEC is currently preparing for the conduct of the 2014 special election which will further enhance the democratic process in the country.
He said that part of this sustainable effort is the methodology chosen for the voters’ roll update which will reduce the 2014 special elections budget by US$6M as compare with fresh registration. In this regard, “I wish to join our chairman, Cllr. Korkoya and all of the personnel of the NEC to maintain the fortitude and work even harder for the successful conduct of this election.
“To my predecessor, Mr. Langley, although this occasion has been described as a farewell ceremony, you will agree that even though our hearts may be heavy, we are here to celebrate an election icon, whose diligence and commitment to duty will be with us for a long time,” Mr. Lighe said.
NEC’s Director for Public Information, Juwee Kennedy, said that the Voters' Roll Update exercise, which begins on January 13, 2014, and ends on March 5, 2014, will target three categories of people.
He said those who did not reach the voting age (18 years) in the 2011 election, but have now reached the voting age are considered category one. Those who did not have the opportunity to register during the 2011 elections are placed in category two and those who intend to change the area they voted in 2011 to any place of their choice are in the third category. Mr. Kennedy said the replacement of lost or damaged voting identification cards will be done in July 2014.
He disclosed that 2000 'mobile teams' with five persons to a team, will conduct the exercise across the country within a period of 45 days; he added that the teams will spend three days each at a particular center, after which they will move to another center.
Meanwhile NEC had maintained that August 12 to October 12, 2014 are the official dates for political campaigning across the country.