The National Elections Commission (NEC) has accepted to abide by the Supreme Court’s order calling for a stay order on all ongoing elections processes pending the announcement of final rulings into the case between the Commission and the Liberty Party of Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine.
Addressing journalists today at during a press conference held at the Commission’s headquarters in Monrovia, the chairman of NEC, Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya said his office has ordered the Coalition for Democratic Change and the Unity Party to put halt to all their campaign activities for the runoff pending a ruling from the Supreme Court in the October 10th alleged electoral frauds case filed by LP.
On request of the LP, the Supreme Court has issued a Writ of Prohibition ordering the NEC to stop all preparations for the November 7, 2017 presidential runoff election. “The NEC, in line with this order, will follow the Court’s instructions. This means all activities in preparation for the presidential runoff election are suspended will not be resumed until the Court orders otherwise,” Korkoya said.
He noted further that from the loss of Wednesday, Nov.1, 2017 as one of the NEC’s working days, means that the November 7, 2017 date set for the runoff presidential election does not look possible.
On status update, he said “Prior to the Supreme Court Order, election preparations were on track. Ballot papers arrived as scheduled on October 28 and packing has been ongoing and ballot papers and other sensitive materials were being prepared and dispatched to centers across the country,” he noted, adding that parts of the shipments of materials had already arrived in Maryland, Grand Kru, River Gee and Grand Gedeh at the time of the order.
“Today shipments were scheduled for the remaining materials to Maryland and River Gee as well as Lower Nimba, Margibi and Upper and Lower Bong but these are suspended, and in some cases, they were recalled back to the warehouses as they were en route,” he said. He added that today’s deliveries were scheduled for Bomi, Grand Bassa, Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh and Sinoe as well as parts of Montserrado but they are also suspended.
Considering claims regarding the integrity of the October 10 representative and presidential polls, Korkoya said inasmuch as there were challenges, the Commission is in no way guilty of any fraudulent electoral practice.
On Magistrates and Board of Commissioners alleged secret meeting with President Sileaf on September 17, he reiterated that it was not in any way a secret meeting to speak of it being evil. “As head of State, the President has supported the NEC strongly in its mandate to hold free and fair elections. The Government, including the other branches of the state are stakeholders and the NEC has a duty to engage all stake in its work.”
Concerning the alleged discovered ballot papers in Grand Gedeh, he said they were not official ballot papers but sample ballot papers. “After a thorough investigation and examination of the papers brought forward we have got to know that they were not official ballot papers. They were sample ballots which were intended to help voters know their candidates as they headed to the polls to vote,” Korkoya said.
He said the ballots discovered had no security feature as the official ballots and appealed to all political parties to use the appropriate channels to air grievances and complaints. “The NEC recognizes their right to freedom of speech,” Korkoya said, “but announcing unsupported claims in the media risks inflaming the situation and dividing people. The legal framework clearly outlines a legal process for complaints and the NEC follows this framework, including taking appeals to the Supreme Court.”
On the possibility of elections rerun should the Supreme Court decide, he said let it not be imagined because what the political parties termed as frauds are not evidences to nullify the October 10 polls. “International and local observers have all submitted their reports and those reports speak to our expectations which say that the elections were credibly and transparently conducted. There is no reason for us to think that the Supreme Court will ignore the facts and follow complaints emanating from sentiments or orchestrated plans intended to cause trouble or backwardness to our political system,” he noted.
The Supreme Court is meanwhile expected to hear arguments with evidences from the LP and the NEC on November 2, in spite of the date being Thanksgiving Day, a public holiday in Liberia.