CPP, Rainbow Coalition demand
Opposition leaders in Liberia have called for the resignation of the National Elections Commission leadership for their “partisan nature, inexperience and ineptitude.”
The opposition community, led by the Collaborating Political Parties and the Rainbow Coalition, are demanding the resignation of the NEC’s entire Board of Commissioners for allegedly marginalizing opposition political parties on elections matters, and the continued refusal of the electoral body to make available copies of the Final Voter Roll (FRR), despite communicating with them.
As a result, the CPP and the Rainbow Coalition said NEC’s action to disrespect them despite been prime elections stakeholders is not just a violation of the country’s election law, particularly Chapter 3.6, but a clear sign of their partisan nature, inexperience, and ineptitude.
“We would like to inform you that, even at the point where ECOWAS stepped in to help us clean the Voter Roll, the National Elections Commission still did not find it prudent to involve political parties in the clean-up process or at least observe the exercise. [This is] utter disrespect of our role as prime elections stakeholders and the fact that it is our complaint that gave rise to the ordering of the clean-up exercise by the court,” the CPP and Rainbow Coalition said in a joint statement issued Wednesday, December 2.
“The NEC has also proceeded in violation of our elections laws, specifically Chapter 3.6, which requires that the FRR be made available to the public through election magistrates across the country,” the statement continued. “Unfortunately, all efforts by the technical team of the CPP and other political parties to have copies of the FRR have yielded no results.”
According to the CPP and Rainbow Coalition, the continued denial by NEC has left them with no time and opportunity to scrutinize the Voter Roll even if they are given it, especially when the election is less than five days away.
They further accused NEC of manipulating the Special Senatorial Elections in favor of the ruling party—the Coalition of Democracy Change, instead of conducting or handling the December 8 election in a fair and transparent manner.
The Opposition groups defended its claims with a reference to a decision taken by NEC in May 2020, in which the electoral body requested the government to postpone the Special Senatorial Election outside the constitutional timeframe of October 13, 2020. For the opposition groups, the decision taken by NEC was done with neither their input nor input from other political parties who are key stakeholders in the process, except the ruling party—the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
“This unilateral act of collusion between the NEC and the CDC-led administration was followed by a Joint Resolution of the National Legislature to postpone the elections to December 8, 2020,” the CPP and Rainbow Coalition said, adding that NEC also colluded with the CDC-led administration to launch the Voters Roll Update exercise on a previously failed mobile process, instead of the time-tested standard stationary process, without any reference to the other parties who are equal competitors in our democratic process.
“As feared, the mobile VRU became a massive scheme of fraud, ranging from voters trucking to multiple registrations, to the creation of ghost voters and registration of foreign nationals. The mobile process, which in 2014 during the dry season failed to register a targeted 120,000 voters for five weeks, have now, we are made to understand, magically registered almost 300,000 voters in two weeks during the rainy season, with bad road conditions. The NEC, despite calls and pressure from opposition political parties, refused, neglected, and failed to clean-up the 2017 voters roll, in violation of the November 2017 Supreme Court Ruling, and June 5, 2020, Joint Resolution of the National Legislature mandating that a clean-up process of the 2017 FRR be conducted by the NEC with the involvement of political parties,” the Coalitions argued.
Meanwhile, the opposition Coalition has planned to boycott the upcoming referendum, which is slated to be held along with the midterm senatorial and legislative by-elections, if the current Board of Commissioners does not resign as demanded.
The CPP and Rainbow Coalition are also demanding for the cancellation and postponement of the referendum, since the ballots on the propositions are being printed without consultation and consensus with political parties on the symbols to represent each proposition on each ballot.
“Should the government insist on proceeding with the referendum, we urged all supporters and well-meaning Liberians to boycott the referendum on December 8, 2020 and vote only Senatorial and Representative Candidates. We do not rule out possible legal actions if NEC insists on holding the planned illegal referendum.
“We cannot and will not participate in an unconstitutional process. We reserve the right to peacefully assemble and will be doing so over the coming days to call attention to our legitimate demands. Interestingly, the NEC has decided to ascribe unto itself the power to correct and redo the gazette and proceed with the printing of referendum ballot papers in total violation of the laws. There is nowhere in our laws where the NEC can issue a gazette as it has clearly done by operations of its decision,” they said.
Further clarifying its position, the CPP and Rainbow Coalition said that they are not against the amendment of the Liberian Constitution as being portrayed in the public by the ruling establishment. Rather, what they “are against is the unconstitutional manner in which this regime is proceeding with the conduct of the proposed referendum.”
The opposition groups added that they are in support of the move to have the presidential tenure reduced to four years rather than five years, as has been suggested by this regime. However, they cannot participate in a process that the “regime would insist on proceeding with the referendum against the Supreme Court’s decision and calls for postponement from the Liberian National Bar Association, Civil Society Organizations; Youth and Student groups, etcetera, is quite revealing of an underlying motive.”
“We cannot rule out the plan to force an unconstitutional third-term for President Weah, as was revealed by Senator Prince Johnson a couple of months ago and validated by Samuel Tweh’s ill-fated Benevolent Dictator rant,” the opposition joint statement said. “We would also like to warn the CDC and the NEC that we are aware of plans to rig the Senatorial Elections. We have put in place all measures to protect our votes and would resist vehemently any attempts to thwart the will of the people.”