Are Political Parties Observing NEC’s Guidelines?

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The word GUIDELINE is a detailed plan or explanation to guide people in setting standards or determining a course of action. Put in another way, it is a rule or principle for appropriate behavior.

Being what it is by definition, guidelines could evolve as laws that are made in consonance with a superior body of laws to control behavior and actions of people in certain organizations, groups or associations. It is within this context that the National Elections Commission (NEC) came out with a set of guidelines in consonance with the Constitution and Elections Law to govern activities of political parties and independent candidates in the electoral process.

One of the guidelines is one having to do with campaigning, one major activity, if not the most important, that allows political parties and individuals to sell their platforms to voters with the intent of winning the various positions, including the presidency, in the election.

In order to ensure equality in this democratically competitive process, the National Elections Commission set a timeline for each activity to guide politicians and voters; the registration of political parties and independent candidates; voter registration; voters’ roll exhibition; final listing of voters; commencement and end of campaign; and election day, just to randomly name a few.

For campaigns, the NEC set it from July 31 to October 8, 2017. But since we entered 2017 and the euphoria for election rose, political parties and candidates have been vigorously engaged in campaign-like activities across the country without regard for the guideline.

As recent evidence can show, the political leader of the main opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), George Weah, on June 25 had nothing to tell his supporters in Montserrado District #2 but to castigate other politicians including Vice President Joseph Boakai of the Unity Party, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine of the Liberty Party and other presidential hopefuls that they are immaterial for Liberia; maintaining himself as the only patriot who can lead the country to prosperity.

This editorial is not meant to delve into the credibility and competence of Weah to lead Liberia, though he claims to be our savior. However, in his assertions in that district, Weah described Vice President Boakai as a failed person who has worked in government for 40 years with nothing to show as his impact on the larger society. He referred to Charles Walker Brumskine as part of the same corrupt group of people who have contributed nothing to the betterment of the country.

Like Weah, Cllr. Brumskine has been touring the counties selling Liberty Party as the liberator of the country, branding himself and his running mate, Harrison Karnwea, as the best people with a vision for Liberia. Vice President Joseph Boakai has been quiet with all the comments made against him, but his Unity Party members and other supporters have also been selling him to the Liberian people ahead of the campaign period. The same has been the case of Dr. J. Mills Jones of the Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE). He, too, has been on the tour asking voters to prioritize him for the presidency because he is “The poverty doctor” who can save the country. Others including Alexander Cummings have been carrying out similar activities in contravention of the guideline for campaign as set by the National Elections Commission.

It may be recalled that early this year the NEC mandated that since campaign has not begun, political parties and independent candidates should remove placards from the streets and avoid all pre-campaign activities; yet we continue to see campaign activities and hear campaign messages.

There is no theoretical rationale given by NEC to substantiate its mandate for politicians not campaigning ahead of time except for the fact that it is a guideline; nevertheless, we believe in our right mind also that observing the guideline will create an equitable environment to allow all parties to start the competition at the same time and weigh one another’s strength to voters.

It may be recalled that on June 25 some political parties were accredited to contest in the election. What becomes of these parties in terms of campaign that others have begun? How fair is it to them when every party must begin campaign together?

When we take a cue from the US election, one will realize that during primaries for the Republicans and Democrats to elect their presidential candidates, criticisms and competition were rife among members of the same party. After primaries ended and campaign began, the two contenders then began the political battle against each other at the national level.

Contrary to these sequential events associated with democracy, Liberian politicians are conducting primaries and at the same time campaigning.

As people wishing to seize state power and expecting others to abide by the law, you should be the first to obey the law so that the ordinary people will imitate your good example. We believe that the pre-campaigning activities politicians are carrying out are in violation of the election guideline, and they must stop. We also want the NEC to be consistent to enforce its own rules irrespective of personality or the position of violators to show the Liberian people and partners that it is a serious body.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Why should political parties be bothered about NEC guidelines when the NEC Chairman Jerome George Korkoyah is an alien and a lawless individual who is impersonating as a Liberian citizen?

  2. ‘Wicked, Damaging & Abusive Act: Condemnation in Liberia as Sex Tape Rocks Ruling Party

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    WHAT IS THIS KENNETH BEST? IS THIS WEAH “CASTIGATING” BOAKAI AND HIS UNITY PARTY?

    Monrovia – A sexually-explicit embarrassing video posted in a Facebook chatroom with alleged ties to the ruling Unity Party in Liberia is drawing condemnation from various political circles as tension mounts ahead of this year’s presidential and legislative elections.

    The video which shows Mr. Mohammed Sambolah, Assistant Director at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, said to be a member of the party, encouraging a female partner to record a video which only shows her face and not his, is drawing criticisms from the Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Protection as well as the UP whose Assistant Secretary General for Press, Publicity and Outreach, Mo Ali, said in a statement Tuesday that the party condemns the video.

    The ministry investigation gathered that such recording was done long ago, but was released recently when the two reportedly engaged in a misunderstanding. The Ministry sees the recording and subsequent exposure of said video as devilish, embarrassing and malicious. “It is a serious violation of the privacy of womanhood. – Ministry of Gender, Children And Social Protection (MGCSP)

    Mr. Ali however suggested that the chatroom is not sanctioned by the UP although it bears its name.

    Party Probing Leak Out of Chatroom

    Said Mr. Ali:

    “In the early morning hours of June 27, 2017 a video involving two adults in sexual acts was circulated on social media. It is alleged that the video was released by the male in the UP chat room (a chat room that is not officially sanctioned by the leadership of the party). Some people have unscrupulously linked this act to the Unity Party. The party is reacting to this because the posting of the video was ALLEGEDLY done in a chat room that bore the name “Unity Party”.

    Firstly, the UP strongly condemns this act and any other act that involves the posting or leaking of videos and/or photos that have sexually explicit contents including nudity of anyone. The party seriously caution all (including its members and sympathizers) to disengage from such behavior and will drastically penalize any of its partisan caught in such disgraceful act.

    Secondly, the party is conducting investigation to ascertain as to whether the male involved in the posting of the video is a partisan of the party and the reasons behind posting such video. Once the investigation is concluded and recommendations are made, the UP will take appropriate steps to implement the recommendations that will be made in the report.

    Lastly, we from the UP empathize with the lady in the video and will do all in our powers to preserve her dignity and protect her womanhood. We are also kindly appealing to members of the general public to stop sharing this video as the sharing only further brings the lady to public ridicule and embarrassment.”

    Asked why the party did not include the accused in the press statement when the girls photograph and the video of the act is being shared around the social media, Mr. Ali later told FrontPageAfrica that the party is investigating Mr. Sambollah’s affiliation with the party. “We are investigating him because we need to establish whether or not he is a member of the Unity Party or a supporter of Boakai because the chatroom is open to everyone. So that is why we didn’t include his name in the statement. Preliminary investigation shows that he was chatting with her and at the same time chatting in the UP chatroom. So he mistakenly sent the video to the chatroom instead of to the girl. We are also investigating who Leaked the video from the chat room.”

    In a statement Wednesday, the Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Protection said it condemns in the strongest term the circulation of a new ‘sex-video’ on social media exposing the privacy of a Liberian woman. The ministry described such video as disgraceful, uncivilized and further undermines the dignity of womanhood.

    The ministry investigation gathered that such recording was done long ago, but was released recently when the two reportedly engaged in a misunderstanding. The Ministry sees the recording and subsequent exposure of said video as devilish, embarrassing and malicious. “It is a serious violation of the privacy of womanhood. In a release issued in Monrovia, the ministry indicates that the recording has the propensity to further present a negative picture of the dignity of Liberian women, and that such act must never be tolerated. “No woman should be treated in such form and manner, no matter what the circumstances.”

    The statement added: “The dignity of a woman should be protected at all times in-spite of what condition that woman finds herself,” the release added. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Gender, Children And Social Protection (MGCSP) is encouraging the Female Lawyers Association, Female Journalist Association of Liberia (FeJAL) and all civil society actors to join efforts in exposing the perpetrator of such wicked, damaging and abusive act. At the same time, the ministry is calling on the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to immediately intervene by apprehending the alleged perpetrator who is reportedly in the employ of the Ministry of Finance And Development Planning (MFDP) and the University of Liberia respectively.”

    ‘Irresponsible Creatures’

    Memensie Kaba, a senior partisan of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change expressed disappointment over the video, lamenting in a Facebook post:

    I am seriously disappointed in the way some of our men in Liberian Politics push women away as if politics is a men’s society that belongs to a group of beheaded goats or uncivilized men.

    I strongly condemn the nude video that was posted on Facebook, specifically in the Unity Party’s Group Chat about a lady who has been very blunt on social media when it comes to happenings in our country. This action in my opinion is not only cruel but also unacceptable and uncivilized.

    Those irresponsible creatures without human sensibility who posted such video in the name of stupidity called politics, only did so because they feel that’s the only way they can silence her. So sad!

    After discriminating women for so many years, haven’t you built for yourselves that sense of responsibility for once? Is that your definition of politics in Liberia? Would you feel happy if someone had recorded your mother, sister, daughter, etc in such a manner?

    I’m just out of words. You can critique a female politician in many ways without posting a naked pic of her or a sexual video. For God in Heaven’s sake, being into politics doesn’t mean you are not a human being to do some of those normal things a natural human being should do. Take that in now and elevate your level of thinking.

    This uselessness must stop now! If only that lady knows the doer of this stupid act, I will be the first person to take serious and unimaginable action against his cruel self.

    If you think that’s how you will push us away from politics then I ask you to re-strategize because when a brave and courageous woman’s mind is made up, it is indeed made up. You can continue to record nude videos of women in politics all because of your intellectual weaknesses. I am really mad beyond explanation.
    Gender and Development Minister Julia Duncan Cassel describe the video as wrong and said the ministry was in the process of releasing a statement.

    No Mistake Here

    Some of Mr. Sambollah’s friends on Facebook suggest that he may have mistakenly shared the video into the chatroom and it was mistakenly leaked.

    Mickey Titoe writes: “Since this morning when I got aware of the embarrassing issue of a leaked sex tape, I have been soberly reflecting on its ramifications and how it even got in circulation in the first place. Finally, I have come to reason that whether it was intentionally or inadvertently leaked, it does not negate the fact that it has injured the reputation of a promising Liberian female who evidently opposed the idea of having such affair taped. For this, I appeal to all those who currently have the tape, to stop circulating it and to do the honorable thing of deleting it. At the same time, I would like to publicly state that I #empathize with the female in question! I #stand with her; and I know this too shall pass!”

    Not everyone is buying into the excuse that it may have been a mistake. Jerome Saydee Jr. aptly summed up the views of many when he posted: “What do you hope to gain by sharing her nude video with you in bed on social media in the name of mistake?”

    Invasion sexual privacy constitutes a crime in most countries where it is considered illegal to record or post intimate moments without their consent. Under Liberian law, however, authorities have said they cannot take action unless the victim or injured makes a complaint. In Malawi and Uganda, authorities have put in place anti-pornography or anti-obscenity provisions in the law to guard against various forms of “cyber violence” against women although there have been mounting calls for tougher legislations to curb their incidence rates and to ensure redress for victims.

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