Former National Elections Commission (NEC) Director of Civic Education, Josiah F. Joekai, now serving as a member of the Boakai for President campaign team, has declared that the NEC cannot announce the runoff elections date without the inputs of the Coalition for Democratic Change(CDC) and the Unity Party(UP) both of which are contestants in the impending runoff elections.
In an interview with the Daily Observer on Monday, Joekai declared that in the absence of a mutually agreed consensus between NEC, UP and CDC on the modalities to be used during the runoff, NEC cannot, on its own authority make a unilateral decision to hold the runoff election. “I want to be on record for this, that the NEC will not, and cannot announce elections date without addressing the issue, in fact we also have to look at the issue of the current ballot papers as to whether they are not used, or they are ready to be used.”
His declaration comes in the wake of a special session convened over the weekend by NEC Chairman Korkoya to discuss modalities expected to be put in place to guide the conduct of the runoff elections. According to Mr. Joekai, the purpose of the session, as spelt out in Chairman Korkoya’s communication to both parties, was to start the engagement process of the implementation of the Supreme Court’s mandate..
But alarmingly according to Mr. Joekai, Chairman Korkoya came to the meeting without a prepared agenda and when he was pressed by the UP and the CDC to produce one, Chairman Korkoya arrogantly insisted that his was a single-item agenda so he elected to present it orally. Mr. Joekai further disclosed that the meeting was conducted in an atmosphere which he described as tense, hostile and which prompted both parties to call a recess in order to mutually consult.
On the way forward, he maintained that there needs to be a clear understanding amongst the parties on which of the Final Registration Roll(FRR) is to be cleaned. According to him this is a necessary first step because NEC has since made some modification to the FRR, electronic copies of which were given to political parties on September 23, 2017. According to him that Roll has been modified. “So firstly we do not even know the kind of FRR that is supposed to be used, so NEC and the two parties must know the type of roll that is to be cleaned,” he declared.
Continuing, Joekai stressed that in the interest of transparency, there is a need to have one representative from each party work along with NEC database technicians to do a comprehensive assessment and cleanup of the FRR to derive at one which will be acceptable to all. He said this was necessary because there were just too many instances with several individuals carrying the same Voter identification number.
I want NEC to admit to the discrepancy that exists from their end, I don’t think the party [any] longer has confidence in the NEC, so it becomes very difficult for the party to cooperate with the chairman, looking at the kind of posture, the lack of cooperation with the Unity Party as far as we are concerned.’’