Reminder to NEC: Elections Are A Time Bound Affair

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Elections are a time-bound affair, constitutionally required to be held at a prescribed date. And this is what the electoral body appears to have lost sight of. The senatorial elections were originally scheduled to have been held in October however due to the unpreparedness or more so due to the failure of the government to deliver the required funds on time, the elections were instead rescheduled to be held on December 8, 2020. Prior to the holding of those elections, however, there are a number of complementary activities which have to be undertaken within specified time periods. The following activities listed below are activities scheduled by NEC:

July 15th, 2020 – July 30th 2020 Referendum Symbol Design Competition
July 15th, 2020 – August 05th 2020 Accreditation of Observers, Party Agents, and Media for Voter Roll Update
July 15th, 2020 – September 15th 2020 CVE Outreach Activities for Voter Roll Update Exercise
July 15th, 2020 – September 15th 2020 Period for Regional Consultations on CVE for Voter Roll Update
July 10th, 2020 Publication of Voter Roll Update Regulations & Key Dates
July 10th, 2020 Publication of Referendum & Election Regulations
July 03rd, 2020 – July 30th 2020 CSOs/CBOs accreditation Process for Voter Roll Update Begins & End
 

To the best of available public information those activities scheduled to have been held in July have not been held and likewise those scheduled to be held in August.

 

 

August 15th, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

Official Launch of Civic and Voter Education for Voter Roll Update Exercise

August 15th, 2020 Nomination Regulations & Guidelines Published
August 15th, 2020 – October 15th 2020 Accreditation of Party Agents, Observers, Media and for Election & Referendum
August 13th, 2020 List of Voter Roll Update Centers published
August 13th, 2020 List of Voter Roll Update Centers published
August 13th, 2020 List of Voter Roll Update Centers published
August 05th, 2020 Issuance of Writ of Election (Special Senatorial Election & Referendum)

 

As can be discerned from the official calendar of events, the above listed activities have not yet been undertaken. With just eleven days remaining to the end of August, it is highly doubtful that NEC will successfully accomplish the tasks outlined above. Key amongst the activities listed have to do with the update of the Voters Roll (VR) and the publication of updated Centers.

And now with news filtering from NEC about the late arrival of cameras and related materials and equipment to conduct the update of the Voters Roll and the contemplated change in dates for the conduct of the VR update exercise, it is becoming clearer by the day that the NEC under the leadership of veteran broadcast journalist Davidetta Browne Lansanah may fall short of public expectations.

As if the delayed implementation of required activities were enough constraints posed to the electoral body, its head, Davidetta Browne Lanasanah, has slashed the elections budget to US$13.5 million, from US$17 million. According to information gathered by this newspaper, those listed activities were not carried out due to the non-availability of funds to undertake the activities.

A key figure said to be driving the push for additional cuts in the NEC budget is none other but Finance Minister Tweah. It is not clear whether or not his actions are in keeping with IMF Structural Adjustment Policies to cut costs across the board.

In case such is being done in adherence and deference to IMF diktat, then that body has to be and must be reminded that investment in elections is investment for peace, especially considered against the backdrop of 14 years of civil conflict characterized by egregious abuse of human rights with virtual impunity.

Once again, the Daily Observer is constrained to warn against this trend. Our partners in progress have surprisingly remained silent on these developments. And this goes particularly to ECOWAS. Their immense contributions in human and material resources to end the bloody conflict in Liberia must serve to remind ECOWAS leaders of the inherent dangers in remaining aloof to such problems when they begin to fester.

As has been pointed out before, ugly scenes of politically motivated violence witnessed recently strongly suggests that the forthcoming elections may be violence prone. This is in view of the fact that perpetrators of such politically motivated violence have been and are still being inspired by the non-action of the Police and the security apparatus to apprehend and prosecute those fomenting such violence.

This is why the failed implementation of required pre-election activities by the NEC has claimed not only the attention of the Daily Observer but of the general public as well. NEC must awaken to its responsibilities and discharge its constitutional duties and responsibilities without fail and their failure to do so will be sure to invite the disdain, wrath and anger of the Liberian people.

Additionally, it should stop its discriminatory practices against the Daily Observer simply because this newspaper has been uncompromising in its stance against irregularities including corrupt practices at that national integrity institution. This has been a perennial problem and the leadership of the NEC needs to realize the futility of such vindictive pursuits against the media especially the Daily Observer.

For our part at the Daily Observer, we shall remain true to our calling to speak out against the ills that prevent us from being what we should rightly be as a nation and people united under God with justice, freedom and equal rights for all. We seek nothing more than this and we demand nothing less.

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