Special Election Set for Dec. 16?

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Amidst the presence of the deadly Ebola virus in the country, the suspended Special Senatorial Election, from all indications, may be conducted on December 16, 2014.

The National Legislature passed a Joint Resolution suspending the October 14, 2014 political rally and instructing the Electoral body, NEC, to “consult with stakeholders and set a new date for election not later than 20th December.

Based on said mandate, NEC began consultations with relevant stakeholders aimed at meeting the objectives.

The Commission at the weekend’s meeting with political parties, independent candidates, youths and student groups consented to suggestion that the Special Senatorial Election be held on December 16, 2014.

The suggested date was recommended by the Commission in keeping electoral guidelines and processes leading to voting day, announcement of results and a room for protest as provided for under international standards.

In that meeting, participants agreed with the suggested date, but recommended “flexibility during the poll in the event where there is an upsurge in the Ebola situation during the period up to December 20, 2014.”

Accordingly, participants suggested that election be conducted in counties that report lower risks of Ebola and election be suspended in counties still reporting high infection level of the virus.

At the same time, some  members of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) expressed mixed views on the conduct of the election on December 16, 2014.

Some PUL members suggested that a national conference be held to discuss the election while others argued that the election be held on December 16, 2014 as suggested by the Commission.

For his part, PUL president Kamara Abdullai Kamara embraced a national conference that will have the backing and full mandate of the Liberian people other than a resolution crafted by the National Legislature mixed with politics.

In support of holding election before January 2015, Reporters Association of Liberia (RAL), through its president Keith Morris, called for extension of political campaign and rallies up to the day of election and that voting be extended by “at most two hours to provide space and time for more electorate  participation.”

He also recommended that polling places be increased or divided into parts to avoid long queues, aimed at containing the spread of Ebola.    

The consultations are aimed at finding a suitable date for the holding of the Special Senatorial Election.

NEC on Thursday of last week met with the Chairman and members of the National Traditional Council of Liberia, the Inter-religious Council and the Liberia Council of Churches on similar subject, and that meeting was positive but the stakeholders neither supported nor rejected the NEC’s suggested date.

Meanwhile the Commission will continue consultations with political parties, independent candidates, student and youth groupings, the civil society and the Press Union of Liberia in the coming days leading to election, the Commission’s Director Communications said.

With political parties and independent candidates, a group of people actively involved with the election and NEC in strong support of the December 16, 2014 polling date, political commentators believe election will be held on the mentioned date.

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