The Supreme Court’s ruling on the appeal brought before it by protesting parties – Liberty Party (LP), Unity Party (UP), All Liberian Party (ALP) and Alternative National Congress (ANC), was unequivocal in its call on the National Elections Commission (NEC) to clean up the Final Registration Roll (FRR) before proceeding to hold the runoff elections.
Against calls for the annulment of the entire results of the October 10 elections, based on widespread gross irregularities and fraud, the Supreme Court held that while fraud and irregularities did occur, they were not of the magnitude and scope to constitute sufficient grounds for annulment of the results.
The Supreme Court did, however, imply that those irregularities raised red flags about the integrity of the Voter Roll, which cannot and must not be ignored as the NEC prepares to hold the runoff election. We recall NEC Commissioner Jonathan Weedor’s press statement of last June raising concern about the Voter Roll whose integrity he maintained had been compromised by the flawed Voter Registration process.
Had his warning as well as those of Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh, Miatta Fahnbulleh, Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe and others been heeded, the Liberian people would have most certainly been spared the agony and trauma which characterized the long and tense wait for the Supreme Court’s final ruling. As that is now behind us, we should hence look forward to and concentrate all our efforts and focus on the task at hand in fulfillment of the Supreme Court’s mandate— that NEC cleans up the Final Registration Roll (FRR).
We recall that the impasse resulting from the lawsuits filed by political parties protesting the results of the October 10 elections had heightened tension and gripped the attention of stakeholders that included the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Several ECOWAS experts were sent to Liberia to assist NEC in addressing this problem. Their leaked report made several recommendations which, if implemented, could set the process aright.
The problem, however, is that the experts’ report cannot be considered legal simply because President Sirleaf has not made an official request to ECOWAS. According to sources, she expects the Foreign Minister to do so. The Foreign Minister, on the other hand, can only do so based on an official request for assistance from NEC. According to sources, NEC Chairman Korkoya has been evading attempts by the Foreign Minister to contact him, apparently because President Sirleaf has not instructed him accordingly.
Further, there are troubling reports about continued illegal tampering with the FRR by NEC officials, allegedly on the instructions of Chairman Korkoya. Reports say that a meeting was held over the weekend with officials of CDC and UP, both of which are runoff contestants. At that meeting, NEC Chairman Korkoya had no prepared agenda outlining procedures he intends to follow to clean up the FRR, neither could he produce for scrutiny, copy of the FRR which he insists has no flaws.
And this is not going down well with the parties, both of which, according to sources, are now contemplating an official joint response to NEC’s actions. This development has again highlighted the manifest need for the parties to act to prevent a deliberate and calculated plan to commit a travesty of justice that will subject the Liberian people to the will of a few corrupt and greedy individuals bent on engraving their imprimatur (authority) on the electoral process and its outcomes.
To put it simply, these individuals are insistent upon fixing the elections, which is tantamount to fraud, similar to the 1927 and 1985 elections.
It seems to us that the political parties to the runoff, most especially UP, can jointly or singly file a Motion for Recusal before the Supreme Court in order to compel Korkoya to step aside. For clearly he seems determined to maintain that nothing is wrong with the FRR, and continue his connivance with the powers that be to fix these elections. The Liberian people cannot and MUST not sit supinely and permit a few individuals, using corrupt and unscrupulous means, to allow NEC officials to pursue their intent on fixing these elections. Liberians must NEVER permit this to happen!
The parties to the runoff, in particular UP, are left with no alternative but to run again to the Supreme Court to stop Chairman Korkoya from flouting and ignoring the Court’s ruling that the FRR must be corrected.
If President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf continues stubbornly to insist on maintaining Korkoya as NEC Chairman, then she must take fully the blame for messing with the elections and prolonging the torturous agony of the Liberian people. She must further accept full responsibility for the consequences of whatever else might happen.