As the date to the December 8 elections draws near, frantic efforts, it appears, are being made by the National Elections Commission to have the Voters Roll (VR) cleaned-up before the conduct of the elections. However, the chief drawback to this initiative is the apparent lack of transparency attending the clean-up process.
And very troubling is the fact that in the final analysis, all the data being generated will fall under the control and supervision of NEC Commissioner Floyd Sayor whose character and integrity are questionable.
Floyd Sayor has once before been found guilty by the very NEC of tampering with vote count results in the last District 15 elections.
Floyd Sayor was also found complicit in the manipulation of the VR in the 2017 elections. Just why he was confirmed by the Senate to sit on such a crucial national integrity institution in view of his displayed lack of integrity is a question which Senators have yet to answer.
Senators should be aware, and in case they are not, they shall share equal blame with the NEC should the up-coming elections be characterized by fraud or should they be derailed over such concerns.
That said, the NEC as well as the ECOWAS team is under obligation to provide the public with regular updates on where they are in the clean-up process with elections so close at hand.
Rather disappointingly, this is not the case. And the stance of the political parties on this all-important issue has been at best ineffectual and bereft of focus.
This newspaper recalls that the fraudulent VR was a the major bone of contention in the 2017 elections. It was so contentious that the matter eventually surfaced in the Supreme Court.
The Court ordered a clean-up before the conduct of the runoff elections but NEC reneged on the mandate with impunity.
To recall further, a team of experts from ECOWAS was also deployed to assist in the clean-up of the VR. The team was however unable to complete the exercise owing to the large number of bogus registrants on the VR.
Fast forward to 2020, the problem is still with us. The Supreme Court that mandated the clean-up has since failed to enforce its mandate neither has it responded to a petition from the Collaborating Political Parties(CPP) seeking a Writ of Mandamus to compel the NEC to adhere to its 2017 mandate.
At this stage it remains unclear if the ECOWAS team will be able to accomplish the task within time to allow public vetting of the new VR with elections less than a month away.
But despite all the challenges, the public appears very upbeat and prepared to cast their votes on December 8, 2020.
And there are strong indications that they will keep a watchful eye on the process up to the close of the polls and the counting of the votes.
In view of the numerous acts of fraud that attended the District 15 representative elections which some instances provoked violence, there are fears, genuine public fears that unscrupulous elements including possibly, NEC Commissioner Floyd Sayor, may attempt something foul or suspicious.
And the fear is that the possible public overreaction to any perceived acts of fraud, may result in violence with a potential to veer out of control.
Further there appears to be growing public apprehension about the host of unsavory characters reportedly being recruited into the Liberia National Police (LNP) and other state security apparatuses.
The fear is they could be unleashed on the civil populace in case of unrest arising from the conduct of the polls. And based on past performance of the Police in such situations which have been highly biased and partisan like, there is every reason to fear a possible outbreak of violence that may spill out of control.
This newspaper has often reminded President Weah that the economic indicators are not in his favor. Unemployment is rife , the Liberian dollar is in short supply despite government’s printing of billions of Liberian dollar banknotes which are not in circulation.
It is causing a false appreciation of the Liberian dollar against the US dollar but prices, denominated in Liberian dollars, still remain high.
Truth be told, the Liberian people are indeed suffering greatly and the strong hardships induced by a deteriorating economic situation coupled with a rising sense of general insecurity constitute explosive elements of a virtual tinderbox.
Accordingly, President Weah must tread softly, at least for the sake of national stability and that of the longevity of his own government.
The public display of overwhelming strength and force by state security may very well succeed in driving fear into the people but only for a while.
This is because there is no guarantee that the people will forever remain cowed in submission to those they perceive as wicked and corrupt overlords.
If 14 years of brutal civil conflict induced by naked greed for power has not taught us any worthwhile lessons as a people, then this nation and its people should brace themselves for a return to its recent bloody past. We pray and hope not.
The Daily Observer therefore welcomes Madame Charlotte Osei, former and first female chairperson of the Ghana Electoral Commission. She is expected to lead the ECOWAS clean-up exercise of the VR.
All eyes are now on her as the nation waits virtually on pins and needles for the outcome of the clean-up exercise. We trust she cannot and will not let Liberia and ECOWAS down at her PERIL!