-Eminent Clerics join calls for his recusal
Tension has continued to mount on the embattled chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Jerome George Korkoya, to recuse himself from the entire electoral process as demanded by the opposition Liberty Party (LP).
The latest call came yesterday from two of the country’s eminent religious leaders, who said Korkoya just has to rescue himself, not just from presiding over cases brought before the commission by dissatisfied parties including the LP, but also from the rest of the electoral process.
In a joint press statement issue in Monrovia yesterday, Dr. Olu Q. Menjay, president of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Education Convention (LBMEC), and Sheikh Ali Krayee, National Chief Imam of Liberia, called on Korkoya to abandon his position as head of the country’s electoral process, because he was not qualified to hold such a position.
The two clerics said that Korkoya’s inability to address many of the burning concerns raised ahead of the October 10, 2017 presidential and legislative elections, prove that he does not understand the technical know-how and the leadership ability to execute the tasks assigned to him as chair of the NEC.
Since the end of the October 10 polls, the NEC has recorded a total of 56 complaints emanating from the conduct of the polls in the 15 counties.
There are also concerns in many quarters that Korkoya might have been responsible for the current stalemate to the electoral stand-off.
The call from the two clergymen for Korkoya to bow out of the NEC appears far beyond the similar demand issued by the LP political leader, Charles Walker Brumskine, whose main cause was due to the fact that the NEC chairman had earlier prejudiced the LP’s complaint.
In the statement, Dr. Menjay and Sheikh Krayee said, “We call on the Korkoya to honorably recuse himself from the electoral process, because he is not competent to conduct election as proven by the October 10 polls irregularities and reported frauds.”
This gesture on his part, the prelates noted, would elevate the confidence level of the people in the electoral process. “We further request the NEC to correct all voters’ registry errors,” the statement said.
The two religious leaders assured that the current legal process in resolving the “many glaring” electoral disputes are in the right direction, adding, “We therefore wish to encourage all parties to legal conflict to continue path of the law, which we believe is the best option to move forward.”
As it is now, it seems that Korkoya’s case is beyond the cloud—and surely, it appears to be no ending moments of intense pressure on him until he bows out.
He might have survived the dual citizen debacle that hovered over him for several months, probably because of the backing he had from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, but the latest calls for his recusal seems to attack his competence and performance of the process so far.
The clerics said they foresaw such program five months ago, when they registered their concerns relating to the voters’ registration exercise when the NEC chairman made a public pronouncement that anyone in possession of a voter card could vote in the October 10 elections.
“We immediately saw his statement on this matter as a recipe for confusion. Our concern and dissatisfaction on his statement was mentioned on United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Radio in June, this year,” the statement said.
Though Korkoya later retracted that pronouncement, the Clerics noted that “unfortunately, his retraction did not match the reality on October 10 as evidence by the numbers of complaints.
“It is important to note that the bedrock of any credible election marks a certified voter registry. To our dismay, the voter registry was incomprehensible at many polling places. Just as in the case during the exhibition period, many voter-card-carrying people could not find their names on the registry,” the statement said.
This embarrassing situation forced the NEC to resort to the unorthodox practice of allowing anyone with a voter card to vote, the religious leader indicated.
“The fact that these issues were raised several months before the October 10 elections and that those matters were not rectified up to the day of election, proves that Korkoya is not up to the task, which the country entrusted to him.
The statement also indicated that the huge number of invalid votes (over 80,000) is a clear indication that voter education was poorly implemented.
“We commend the Liberian people for remaining peaceful and law-abiding and for their steadfastness in the electoral process. We pray that God Almighty will continue to protect us all,” it said.
They lauded the overwhelming participation of the voters in the electoral process, indicating that the huge turnout is a testimony of their will to democratically elect the next leaders. We also thank our international partners for their contribution to the democratic process thus far.