Time and time again, the Daily Observer has been sounding the warning about shortcomings of the electoral process under the watch of Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah, which could lead to problems of such magnitude to railroad the successful conduct of the elections. But the NEC Board of Commissioners, especially its Chairperson, Davidetta Browne Lansanah, have remained impervious to those pressing concerns
The Daily Observer has also consistently warned about the false steps being taken by the NEC leadership, one of which is the decision to conduct a mobile registration and Voters Roll Update process as opposed to one which is stationary.
Additionally, the Daily Observer has also red-flagged the presence of Floyd Sayor on the Board of Commissioners as a non-starter, given his history of proven misconduct and fraud in the handling of election results at the NEC data center during the recent Montserrado County District 15 by-elections as well as the previous 2017 Presidential elections.
It is by no means surprising, therefore, that the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) have not only expressed these very concerns, but have called for a halt to the ongoing process given the spate of irregularities being drawn to public attention since the Voters Roll (VR) update process began.
Judging from the current look of things, these upcoming elections promise to be the most corrupt and most poorly managed senatorial election since the 2014 senatorial election, as problematic and contentious it proved to be.
The CPP position statement to NEC ought to be taken seriously because it raises fundamental issues which, if left unaddressed, could impair the holding of the scheduled December 8 election as well as subsequent by-elections and the 2023 General and Presidential elections.
But more to that, the poor conduct of these upcoming elections could serve to further inflame passions beyond the tipping point and lead to open free-for-all violence.
And as far-fetched as it may appear, such violence could serve to trigger the involvement of the country’s military to restore order. And the danger is, once out in the streets to restore order, temptations to seize power may prove too alluring to resist, especially if the masses show any sign of approval of its (the military’s) intervention.
Another possible scenario, which could unfold if the elections are mismanaged or characterized by fraud, is the possibility that it could trigger off mass street protests.
And as we all know so well from experience elsewhere in the sub-region and much further afield, such mass public protests have brought down governments whose leaders were once feared and thought to be immune to anything like mass popular action.
Former Burkinabe dictator, Blaise Compaore was one of such individuals, feared and hated by his people whose government was sacked from office and who fled from the wrath of his people into inglorious exile where he remains today.
The Chairperson of the NEC appears to be hell-bent apparently on pleasing President Weah that she has thrown caution to the wind and is unilaterally taking decisions about elections related matters without consulting opposition political parties.
Her ever-changing electoral timelines, for example, have been done only in consultation with the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and ignoring the rest of the parties.
The shift in date to December rather than October, as constitutionally required, as well as the shift to Mobile Registration rather than Stationary, as has been the practice, was done unilaterally according to the CPP without their input.
Neither is it clear whether other parties had any input into the decision at all. Additionally, Chairperson Lansanah’s proposal to capture 300,000 new voters within a period of two (2) weeks is deceptive and disingenuous.
This is because she is fully aware that the previous attempt in 2014, to capture 100,000 new voters within five (5) weeks, using mobile registration during the dry season (an optimal period), was a disastrous failure.
Now, at the height of the rainy season, she is proposing to capture three (3) times more new voters (300,000), knowing fully well that it is not possible. Thus, it appears that the Chairperson has ulterior but unwholesome motives for doing so.
And then the trucking of voters from one point to another, which have in some instances been resisted by locals, as well as confirmed reports of multiple registrations and, the biggest of all, the clean-up of the Voters Roll, are all signs that appear suggestive of intent to commit fraud and award victory to the ruling CDC to whose interests the Chairperson and her colleagues are allegedly sworn to protect.
But lest it be forgotten, this is 2020 and not 1985, when election results were stolen and the Chairman of the Elections Commission, Emmett Harmon, felt brazen to declare that the fake results he read on that fateful day were “ordained by God”.
And that was a time when Liberian youths knew nothing about warfare and were generally not combat hardened. But they now know better; so politicians should know better too.
The inflammatory rhetoric from all sides threatening the use of violence should stop. This government, especially President Weah, should bear in mind that, judging from history, he and his government stand to be the ultimate losers, should the NEC conduct a messy election that could trigger violence and set the country ablaze.
At the end of the day, a number of politicians may either be lying dead or driven into exile, but one thing which appears sure to follow is the demise of this government.
This is the hard truth which many, probably including President Weah, may not want to hear. However, the Daily Observer remains firm in its conviction that, from the look of things, this government, especially Chairperson Lasanah, is playing with fire.
If she is not careful, her actions could set this country ablaze and eventually bring this government down. Is this what she desires, or is it what the President wants? Lest we forget, the Holy Bible in Proverbs 6:27 reminds us: “Can a man take fire to his bosom and his clothes not be burned”?