Former Chairman James M. Fromayan, National Elections Commission (NEC), yesterday expressed doubt over results released by the Commission, that it registered over two million eligible voters during the just ended voter registration exercise.
Fromayan believed that this year’s registration exercise was marred with series of irregularities beginning with mal-functioned cameras.
He made the statement when he appeared on ELBC’s Bumper Show yesterday.
“While is true that the Jerome Korkoya’s administration is hard working, it will be unfair to hold it as a truth for recording over two million returned registration forms,” Fromayan told his audience.
“I am not saying it is impossible to register that number of eligible voters, but the VR process was faced with many challenges, including malfunctioning cameras, staff delayed to start registration on many occasions; incompetence of some hired contractors; mainly to operate the VR equipment, and the outbreak of intermittent riots,” Mr. Fromoyan said.
Fromayan said his days at NEC as co-chairman and later chairman at the commission were critical as compare to that of Korkoya’s administration, “because authority put my feet to job than that of the present commissioners.
He however acknowledged that Korkoyah and team are doing well.
“There was a time when I had 11 armed police guarding me at all times. In fact, I feared that the lives of my wife and children were not safe then,” Fromayan told Patrick Honna, the show host.
Mr. Fromoyan who now heads the Liberia National Commission on Small Arms, said the optical mark recognition (OMR) machines at NEC now are very slow to do the job, which Korkoya claimed his administration has done.
Fromayan said there were sufficient evidences that the then ruling National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL) rigged the 1985 elections under the watchful eyes of president Samuel K. Doe.
“Unlike our elections of 2005 and 2011, which were transparent because of the systems put in place, the 1985 elections were rigged in broad day light,” he recalled.
He noted that this year’s elections are critical, because it is about transitioning from one sitting president to another since the process was carried out in the country in 1944.
Concerning budgetary constraints at NEC, Fromayan said there is no reason why people should think that donor funds directly enters the hands of Commissioners for whatever purpose.
“Monies from donors are placed under the supervision of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for NEC, and anything the Commission intends to do with those funds have to meet the approval of UNDP authorities,” he noted.
He denied ever cheating the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) during the 2011 presidential elections as alleged by the party’s supporters.
Concerning his signing of a communication that questioned his credibility then, Mr. Fromoyan said he made no mistake.
For that, he challenged anyone who thinks he has done wrong to take him to court.
“I read that letter from Bobby Livingstone (NEC communication director) before signing it, but from wherever the noise came that I made a mistake, it is yet to show up and report me to the law. I am not afraid of justice,” he declared.
He said he was not pressured to resign as it was reported by many people across the country, but thought it wise to give others the chance to serve too as chair of NEC.
Mr. Fromoyan said under his chairmanship, nine by-elections were held, and among the contestants, he had three of his best friends, who were “fellow progressives,” but they lost the elections while contestants from the opposition blocks won.
“It was during my leadership at NEC that Geraldine Doe Sheriff, then senior partisan of CDC won the senatorial seat for Montserrado,” he said.
In a related development, Fromayan has openly declared supports to the presidential bid of Vice President Joseph Boakai, and therefore promising to campaign through the country on behalf of Boakai.
“Now that I am not chairman of NEC, I can say the name of any candidate that I support without fear or favor. In this regard, I pledged my support V.P. Boakai,” he announced.
Fromoyan said he has begun mobilizing support from his people in Lofa County, and therefore expressed the hope that the Lofans will follow him to elect Boakai as Liberia’s next leader, succeeding President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Cllr. Korkoya who meanwhile phoned in to give his side of the story, said the figures the commission reported are preliminary results, and there is no need for anyone to doubt them.
“We reported that 2,026,000 forms were received from 11 of the 15 counties, and of that number, 1,036,000 were processed, while 655,000 were completely scanned,” he said.
Korkoya added that the figures are legitimate except wherein some names are objected to during the pending exhibition.
He said even if NEC can get 2.1 million or more of eligible voters to participate in the October elections, the Commission will be pleased and grateful to all who will qualify to vote.
Cllr. Korkoya also called on everyone to take responsibility in ensuring that the October polls succeed without trouble.