The House of Representatives has taken a decision to drop registration fees for electoral offices in Liberia, thereby opening the entire contest to either the ‘rich or poor’.
Said decision means that ordinary Liberians wanting to serve their country in public offices can do so without fear of spending huge sum of money for candidate’s registration in an electoral process.
Plenary took the decision Tuesday, May 20, to reduce the registration fees for elected positions after the Senate attempted to amend the Electoral Law of 2006 and at the same time increased the fees for both legislative and presidential elections.
Despite Representative Acarous Gray’s motion for Reconciliation filed, the House voted 26 for, four against with three abstentions in order to set the figures at US$2,500 for presidency, US$2,000 for the vice president while the Senate and House carried US$750 and US$500 respectively.
In the wisdom of the House’s Committee on Elections and Inaugurations headed by Grand Bassa County Representative Gabriel B. Smith, increasing the registration fees for any given electoral process disenfranchises popular aspirants, who have merger resources to participate in the elections.
Lofa County Representative Moses Kollie motion in favor of the reduction was greeted with cheers from many of his colleagues, who felt the Senate’s changes were intended to target their opponents in the ensuing Special Senatorial Election slated for October this year.
The Senate’s amendment could not get the Lower House’s concurrence because of the 600 to 700 percent increase. “The committee believed that the intent of the Senate might have been good in so far as they seek to raise fund for our electoral programs, but the committee finds the proposed figures somewhat astronomical and unbearable; given the reality of our economic situation. Moreover, if this provision were to be maintained, it would place Liberia above all democratic countries in Africa in terms of candidates’ nomination fees on the continent,” Smith said.
Meanwhile, the Government of Liberia is yet to secure the US$10.3 million needed to fund the Special Senatorial Election. The Electoral body recently announced adjustment to the electoral process due to what sources closed to the Commission believed, “is the lack of resources to conduct the election in time.”
The Commission failed to conduct what is considered, cardinal and critical component of the electoral period, the Issuance of the Writ of Election.
Said process gives electoral magistrates across the 15 counties the authority to move into their respective area and conduct the election. However, up to press time, the process which should have been conducted on Friday, May 9 remains uncertain.