This urgent and critical plea, to hold a free, fair, transparent and peaceful election, is the responsibility not only of the National Elections Commission (NEC), but all of us Liberians.
Of course, the most critical responsibility lies with the NEC, which has been and continues to be in the driver’s seat, steering the course of the preparations and now, come next Tuesday, the execution of the elections.
NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya took pains in the past two days to allay public fears of the secret meeting which he and his fellow Commissioners recently held with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at her residence in Sinkor, Monrovia.
Describing President Sirleaf as “not a terrorist,” but rather “still the sitting President who has a fish to fry in these elections,” Chairman Korkoya reminded the public that “NEC’s security, finances and logistics are provided by the national government, which is headed by the President, to whom respect is due.”
The Chairman was implying that the Commission was constrained to honor an invitation by the President for a meeting with them at her residence; but he insisted that it made no sense for anyone “to think that we have been intimidated or influenced by Madam Sirleaf to do anything negative with these elections.”
We welcome this reassurance of NEC’s independence, though public fear of possible interference stems from the President’s own behavior in this election year, in which she seems to have effectively sidelined her own Vice President, Joseph N. Boakai, by appearing to make overtures to Liberty Party’s Charles Brumskine and even Coalition for Democratic Change standard bearer George Weah.
The surprising thing with the latter is that the most compelling reason voters in 2005 cast their votes in favor of Ellen in the presidential run-off was her overwhelming education and experience contrasted to Weah’s who, though a very popular football superstar, was no match to a Harvard graduate and a former government of Liberia, World Bank, Citibank and United Nations senior official.
What is the difference today seems to be the usual, the trump card in her presidency that begins with capital ‘R’—meaning Robert.
Tuesday’s vote is an important democratic right that all duly registered voters are expected to exercise. We must do so with the utmost seriousness, clarity of vision, determination to move our country forward, and patriotism. As we go to the polls, let us first decide who will be that person who, as President of Liberia, has the integrity, the love of country and the wherewithal to lift our country and usher her into the modern age.
Once we decide who that person will be, let us give him/her our fullest support so that the win will be overwhelmingly convincing that no one will dare cry foul.
Here we must once again caution ALL party representatives at each polling station not to sleep, but to be vigilant on their assignments and watch EVERYTHING taking place, for there is where the vote casting and the initial counting will take place. These representatives will be ultimately responsible to vet all the votes cast and ensure that there is absolutely NO hocus pocus or foul play, but that accountability, credibility and transparency will prevail and that the reports from EACH voting precinct will be AGREED upon before transmission to the central hub at the NEC in Monrovia.
There, too, all the parties will be represented and we are calling on these party and independent candidate representatives to exercise eternal vigilance and be part of every decision that is to be made.
The effectiveness of these party and independent candidate representatives is the fulcrum (hinge, axis) on which the free, fair and transparent elections will be based. This is the determining factor on which the peaceful elections rest.
So, representatives at each polling station and at the NEC headquarters on Tuesday night and subsequently, the responsibility is on your shoulders to ensure that the National Elections Commission conducts credible elections. Anything you suspect to be amiss must cause you to immediately announce and document the error; and follow the procedures as outlined in the NEC regulations for correction.
It is, therefore, in your hands, party and independent candidate representatives, that credibility, transparency, yea, the peacefulness of these elections rest.