Declare Total Lack of Confidence in NEC Chair Jerome Korkoyah and NEC’s Capacity to Conduct Runoff
Accuse President Sirleaf of Electoral ‘Interference and Manipulation’
Vow to Seek Legal Redress
Three major political parties, the ruling Unity Party (UP) of Vice President Joseph Boakai, Charles Brumskine’s Liberty Party (LP) and Benoni Urey’s All Liberian Party, (ALP) have declared in a joint statement issued yesterday in Monrovia that the National Elections Commission (NEC) have declared “increasing and disturbing reports of alleged massive fraud” in the October 10 elections.
The statement, read by UP national chairman Wilmot Paye, said “Our respective political parties, in unequivocal terms, drew the attention of Liberians and the world to several issues of anomalies about the October 10, presidential and legislative elections.
“These anomalies include widespread and systematic fraud, incompetence, inefficiencies and deliberate actions and/or inactions on the part of the National Elections Commission (NEC) that prevented thousands of Liberians from voting in the just-ended polls.”
“Now frustrated and angered,” the statement lamented, “many of those disenfranchised have vowed not to vote in any scheduled presidential election runoff.
“We are appalled” said the statement, “by this mistreatment of our people and grievous offense against our nation.”
Mr. Paye noted that there has to be a credible process in order for there to be a credible outcome.
“We cannot accept why and how, even with total opposition from all political parties and key actors, the National Elections Commission allowed individuals whose names did not appear on the so-called Final Registration Roll (FRR) to vote. This idea was rejected right from the onset,” the statement said.
Moreover, Paye continued, “as many more revelations continue to emerge about individuals being caught in possession of thousands of fake Voter cards as was reported from Ganta, Nimba County on October 28, by many, the National Elections Commission headed by Chairman Jerome Kokorya and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf have lost credibility and public confidence.
“In addition to our previous reaffirmed position of solidarity, we are united in one accord in pursuing the legal course initiated by the Liberty Party and the All Liberian Party. Together, we will pursue this to a logical conclusion.”
Paye further noted, “Today, we reaffirm our stated solidarity with the Liberty Party and all other political parties and candidates that feel offended and have strong reasons to believe that the October 10 polls were characterized by massive systematic irregularities and fraud.
“In furtherance of this solidarity, and also considering the overwhelming evidence of fraud that continues to emerge, our respective Political Parties have resolved to pursue this matter to a logical legal conclusion as quickly as permissible under Liberian Law. We will leave no stone unturned in our endeavors. This will safeguard our peace and reaffirm the purpose of our Nation.”
He added “But notwithstanding this legal pursuit, we cannot ignore the fact that many more startling revelations continue to emerge, thus further corroborating growing allegations that massive fraud occurred during the October 10, polls.
“At first, it seemed that these were mere ‘irregularities’ that could be corrected by simple administrative procedures and practices ahead of any presidential election runoff. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The magnitude of these allegations is alarming!
“Before the polls — and throughout the campaigning period — we raised alarm bells about what was becoming direct interference with the electoral process by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who any reasonable mind would have thought should by now be preoccupied with allowing a genuine transitional process, the first since 1944, when Edwin James Barclay stepped down for William Tubman, although Tubman himself would later cling onto political power for nearly three decades.”
Paye pointed out that the current trend in “Our electoral process is certainly not what Liberians and our International Partners had invested in so heavily and expected to see in Africa’s Oldest Republic. This is not what was expected toward the close of the stewardship of our Continent’s first ever-elected woman Head of State.
“We and our partners invested in peace and stability and therefore expected that a credible outcome from this year’s elections would only help to solidify Liberia’s recovery from long periods of instability. Instead, greed has resurfaced in its most callous form, sowing seeds of discord yet again with the intent of disrupting the fragile peace of Liberia. We cannot and will not tolerate this unacceptable course.”
He recalled in 2014 “when it was alarmed that there might be a grand scheme to reignite instability through manipulation of and/or interference with the 2017 electoral process. The discoveries of evidence of fraud being made across the country have validated that alarm. Circumstances leading to and after the 2017 polls have proven that we were not wishful thinkers at the time. We knew what we were saying and why we were saying it.
“Voters did not want to see an unresolved electoral process; instead, they wanted to see a conclusive process, one that would produce a credible outcome.
“While our respective political parties cannot (and do not intend to) compel anyone to subscribe to our values and ideologies, we are concerned about what appears to be a ploy to veer Liberia off from the path of peace,” Mr. Paye averred. “None of us had the slightest thought that a president who was democratically elected twice would endeavor to create discord.
“We are under no illusion that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has so much to be grateful for twelve (12) years of quiet and uninterrupted stewardship in spite of the scathing effects of corruption and waste, nepotism, poverty and selective application of justice and the rule of law. After seventeen decades as a sovereign country, this is not what Liberia and its people deserve from a president this privileged.
“We are aware,” he continued, “that long before the October 10, poll, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf had invited Election Magistrates to her residence for a meeting, which is unprecedented in election history. Our respective Political Parties maintain that this act clearly amounted to an interference with the electoral process and has no legal basis or justification whatsoever.
“The president’s conduct was an act of intimidation and inducement, especially since some Commissioners of the National Elections Commission had warned Chairman Jerome Kokorya against Election Magistrates meeting President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Those Commissioners were correct that because there was no precedent for it anywhere, that meeting was not necessary at all.
“We are reminded of the voter registration card printing machine and other official materials of the NEC caught in the possession of Amos Siebo, a staff in President Sirleaf’s office, and numerous voter registration cards that ended up in the hands of people, who were either not eligible voters or who voted more than once throughout country. It has also come as a shock to realize that ballots were without serial numbers, negating any possibility of accountability—creating the space for massive fraud.”
UP chairman Paye said that 19 days since the polls ended, “we continue to be deeply troubled by startling revelations from across the country about acts of fraud. We, therefore, call on the United Nations, European Union, African Union, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the United States of America to take keen note of unfolding events since October 10.”
Concluding his statement signed by the three parties, Paye said “The views of Liberians, as expressed through their votes on October 10, which we now realize were not reflected in the announced results, cannot be taken for granted. The growing reports of buried ballot papers being unearthed in Grand Gedeh County and several locations across the country cannot be understated. There can be no surer or truer way to solidify our peace than through a genuine democratic process free of interference and manipulation.”
Meanwhile at the end of the October 10’s polls, The Carter Center, while admitting the election process enhanced the growing role of youth, providing them with opportunities to observe and engage through civil society organizations involved in the election process, made the following “short-term recommendations to the National Elections Commission (NEC) that could lead to significant improvements:
- “The NEC has acknowledged difficulties with long lines and queue management at polling precincts on Election Day. Given this, if there is a runoff, we recommend that the NEC offer polling precinct staff enhanced instruction on these issues before the second round.
- “It is crucial that voters be able to easily identify their polling stations. We suggest giving this information at the entrance to the polling precinct in a manner that is clear to all voters before the voter begins to stand in line for a particular polling place.”
- The Carter Center noted that NEC officials were proactive in visiting polling stations to resolve problems on Election Day, and “we encourage the NEC to continue to react promptly as issues arise throughout the tabulation process.”
- “Transparency is crucial to the election process, and we urge the NEC to continue efforts to ensure the tabulation process is transparent at all levels and the public is provided the information it needs to fully understand the process,” The Carter Center said, adding that prompt release of results is an effective means of building confidence among the electorate and preventing confusion and tension.
- To this end, The Carter Center urged the NEC to release provisional results, including a clear indication of the counties and percentage of precincts reporting.
Additioanlly, Ms. Samantha Smoot, the mission director for the National Democratic Institute (NDI), noted that they observed that the transfer of materials from voting precincts to Magistrate Offices was not done according to procedures or in a secure manner in some locations.
Madam Smoot added: “In some places, materials were taken and stored at Magistrate Office warehouses overnight, and then intake processes were begun at the tallying centers on the morning of October 11.”
Madam Smoot also said the many precincts with multiple polling places lacked clear signs to direct voters to the correct queues.
“This led to confusion about which line to join. Where there were precinct queue controllers, some were not effective in directing voters to the correct queue.
“Processing of voters was slow and inconsistent in some locations and at some polling places a number of voters with valid registration cards were not found on the voter roll,” she said.
“These voters were allowed to cast ballots, and their names were written on an additional list. Also, there was a lack of clarity about the procedures on how to manage voters with registration cards that were not found on the roll, which slowed the process in those locations and underscored earlier concerns that the training for poll workers did not sufficiently address procedures for voter identification,” the NDI mission director said.