The Supreme Court of Liberia, in its December 7, 2017 ruling on the case of massive irregularities and fraud allegedly committed by the National Elections Commission (NEC) brought by four leading political parties, acknowledged incidences of irregularities and fraud.
The Supreme Court denied, however, that these irregularities and fraud were sufficiently widespread to warrant a rerun of the entire elections.
However, the Court did take a forthright action by demanding that NEC immediately clean up the Final Registration Roll (FRR) and have it circulated to all Election Magistrates and all polling stations before the presidential runoff.
But Chairman Korkoya has apparently taken the Supreme Court’s ruling as a joke. Instead of doing as the Court’s ruling demanded, Korkoya did nothing about the cleanup exercise but instead went ahead and hurriedly announced December 26, the day after Christmas, as the date for the presidential runoff!
The public heard absolutely nothing from the Court about this clear and open defiance by the NEC Chair to its mandate, and this newspaper editorially urged the parties, especially Unity Party (UP), to run back to the Supreme Court, which UP did, filing a “Bill of Information.”
Chairman Korkoya and his fellow Commissioners seem to have no idea of the magnitude of the trouble they are in—unless, for reasons best known to themselves, they reckon that the Supreme Court is not to be taken seriously.
It is also surprising that all nine Commissioners at NEC do not yet understand the grave suspicion Liberian voters harbor concerning the millions of extra ballots Chairman Korkoya ordered, many of which, in the wake of the mismanaged October 10 elections, many people feel were used to inflate the votes of certain candidates. Even so, many of these ballots were not used in the October 10 elections. So where are they? We need an audit of all the ballots imported for those elections.
The overriding question remains, how could NEC set a date for the presidential runoff when the FRR had yet to be cleaned up in keeping with the Supreme Court’s mandate?
Another question is, were the political parties concerned consulted on the proposed runoff date? As far as we know, neither UP nor has the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) confirmed that they knew anything about the December 26 date. Whom, we ask, are Korkoya and his fellow Commissioners listening to? Who, besides the NEC Board of Commissioners is calling the shots at NEC, one of the nation’s leading integrity institutions that is supposed to be independent and autonomous?
Having already set the date for the runoff, without first taking a single step to clean up the FRR, what if the cleanup exercise is not completed before that date announced by NEC?
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is keenly interested in the efficacy of these elections and is insisting that they be conducted in a free, fair, transparent and credible manner. Anything otherwise, they fear, and rightly so, would be a recipe for chaos.
Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in his frank and forthright Commencement Address to the University of Liberia last Thursday, declared, “West Africa is not prepared to contemplate the scenario of Liberia sliding back into instability and conflict.”
“We will,” he added, “do all we can to ensure that democracy is entrenched in the country, but we will not accept any other outcome.”
We hope and pray that ECOWAS and its leaders are serious about this. The Liberian people and ECOWAS cannot sit supinely and allow this Liberian government and its National Elections Commission to rig these elections.
We vividly recall what rigged elections in our history did to the country. The 1927 rigged election led to the Fernando Po Crisis that seriously threatened Liberia’s sovereignty, which we would have lost but for the timely and forthright intervention of President Edwin Barclay and his Secretary of State, Louis Arthur Grimes.
The 1985 elections, in which Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was “elected” Senator for Montserrado County, but refused to take her seat because those elections were rigged, led to the Liberian Civil War.
We only hope that President Sirleaf remembers that.
Should she not, we now have to depend only on the resolute Liberian people and their Organization, ECOWAS, to do what it did in The Gambia few months back, to bring sanity to recalcitrant and arrogant political leadership.