National Elections Commission Chairman Jerome Korkoya yesterday called the Publisher of the Daily Observer, Kenneth Y. Best, to complain bitterly about the newspaper’s frequent and persistent calls on him and his boss, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, that the NEC Chairman should do his work credibly and faithfully in organizing a free, fair, credible and transparent election or step aside, or be fired.
Mr. Korkoya’s call followed our lead story yesterday, raising the question as to whether NEC was unwilling to comply with the Supreme Court’s mandate that NEC should clean up the Final Registration Roll (FRR) before the presidential runoff can be organized.
It has been four days since the Supreme Court’s ruling and, given the anxiety of the entire Liberian public about when and how the runoff will take place, Chairman Korkoya has said nothing, nor has he done anything to give the public some idea as to how he feels about the Court’s ruling and what he plans to do about it.
And given the fact that Mr. Korkoya himself and several of his officials at NEC have before insisted that “nothing” was wrong with the FRR, people are wondering what Mr. Korkoya and his Commission will do about this mandate from the highest court of the land.
For the past several months, long before the four political parties – Liberty Party (LP), Unity Party (UP), All Liberian Party (ALP) and Alternative National Congress (ANC), took NEC to the Supreme Court complaining about the widespread irregularities and fraud that characterized the October 10, 2017 presidential and legislative elections, this newspaper, Daily Observer, has been frequently highlighting the problems relating to the organization and execution of the elections.
At one point we reported about how Amos Siebo, an employee in President Sirleaf’s office, was operating a machine at his Johnsonville home, producing voter registration cards and registering voters. After the story broke out, NEC said it had turned Siebo over to the Justice Ministry, who took the matter to court. Since then we understand that Siebo is back at his job in the Executive Mansion. Does the Mansion or any of its officials there care about the implications of all this?
During yesterday’s telephone conversation with the Observer Publisher, Chairman Korkoya insisted that there was no way he could disobey the Supreme Court, since he himself is a lawyer. “I have always respected and obeyed the Court, though sometimes I disagree with the Court,” he said.
For us, this was good news, but . . .
The Observer Publisher reminded Chairman Korkoya that time was not on his side because the Liberian people are anxiously awaiting a word on when and how he (Korkoya) would implement the Court’s order to clean up the FRR and how long would it take before a presidential runoff can be announced.
One of the questions Mr. Korkoya put to the Publisher was, “What have I done to you?”
“It’s not about you, but about the interests and concerns of the Liberian people,” was the Publisher’s reply.
The Daily Observer’s frequency and persistence in calling public attention to these urgent electoral matters and laying them squarely at the feet of NEC Chairman Korkoya is simply because it is he who is in charge of the NEC, the institution clothed with the authority to conduct elections in Liberia. The NEC is one of the foremost INTEGRITY organizations in the country. The NEC, therefore, has to be and has to be seen to be an INTEGRITY organization. It is, therefore, grossly surprising that Chairman Korkoya does not understand this.
Be that as it may, the highly positive element that the Observer Publisher garnered from yesterday’s conversation with Mr. Korkoya is that the NEC Chairman said he cannot and will not disobey the Supreme Court’s ruling that NEC should clean up the FRR. But the NEC Chairman did not say when and how he would carry out the Court’s mandate.
The Observer Publisher took pains to remind the Chairman that time was not on his side, and that the entire Liberian public, who are keenly interested in and directly affected by the FRR clean-up exercise, are anxiously awaiting word on when and how it will be done to the complete satisfaction of not only the political parties but the Liberian people themselves.
So while we welcome Chairman Korkoya’s expressed commitment to obey the Court’s mandate, we all—that is the entire Liberian populace—want to know when this will take place and how.
The public also wonders whether the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS), which already has a team ready to help in this cleanup exercise, will be invited to join in the cleanup exercise.
Chairman Korkoya and his boss, President Sirleaf, know that no one in this country can take ECOWAS for granted. Why? Because it is first to our ECOWAS brothers and sisters that we all will run should any postelection chaos occur in Liberia.
How will we answer when they tell us, “We came to your country at our own expense to try to help you clean up your mess, and you rejected us.”