16 April 2013

Liberia: NEC Chairman Cannot Be Trusted


Last Week President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf reconstituted the National Elections Commission (NEC) days to the end of the mandate of the current board of commissioners which expires Tuesday, March 26, 2013.

The President said the nomination of persons to the NEC is in keeping with Chapter 2, Section 2.2 of the New Elections Law of 1986 and as amended in 2003 and 2004.

Those Nominated To the NEC include Cllr. Jerome Kokoya, Chairman, Cllr. Sarah Toe, Co-Chair, Cllr. Elizabeth Nelson, Member, Mr. Ansumana Kromah, Member, Henrietta Mardia Peters, Member and Samuel Joe, Member. President Sirleaf said in the interest of continuity, she re-nominated a few of those who previously served, ensuring that the new configuration of the commission benefits from the invaluable experience gained over the years of service.

Following The Appointment of Cllr. Kokoya as NEC Chairman designate, a leading civil society organization that focuses straightly on election issues, the Elections Coordinating Committee, (ECC) strongly condemned the appointment and requested that President Sirleaf withdraw his nomination forthwith.

The Group Says the appointment violates Section 2.5 of the 1986 Elections Law which states: "No Commissioner, election officer or any employee of the Elections Commission shall be a member, or an affiliate of any political party, or of an association or organization; nor shall any Commissioner, election officer or any employee of the Election Commission canvass for any elective public office directly or indirectly".

When The Executive Mansion issued the press release to announce the new officials of NEC, we were shocked and disappointed, especially with the nomination of Cllr. Jerome Kokoya as the Chairman. It is no secret that Cllr. Kokoya is a die-hard stained Unity Partisan who believes in the party's ideology, vision and sentiments for which he is not qualified to head a democratic institution like the NEC.

It is a known fact that Cllr. Kokoya is a full-fledged member of the Unity Party who contested the 2011 Presidential and Legislative elections on the UP ticket in district #1in Bong County. He contested as Unity Party's representative candidate but was miserably flogged.

We Strongly Detest the nomination of Cllr. Kokoya because such nomination is in violation of Section 2.5 of the 1986 and the very Elections Law President Sirleaf is relying on to nominate her partisan. By this portion of the law, Cllr. Kokoya is not qualified because he is a card bearing member of the ruling Unity Party.

The Fact That Cllr. Kokoya participated in the 2011 elections as a candidate of the ruling party disqualifies him for the position and defeats the argument that he resigned a year ago. If the he's confirmed by the senate, the opposition must remain unwavering in the position because this guy cannot be trusted and would easily sellout to the ruling party any day.

We Are Encouraging the Liberian Senate to reject Kokoya because his confirmation will undermine future elections in Liberia.

Is it our opinion that Cllr. Kokoya will not fairly officiate a game in which his team (Unity Party) is participating; therefore, we strongly believe he must be denied and should not be given the green light to chair the electoral body.

We Believe That the nomination of Cllr. Kokoya is a recipe for chaos in future polls. It is the thinking of stakeholders that he will not allow a free, fair and transparent process.

In our mind, the decision of President Sirleaf to nominate Cllr. Kokoya is intended to create a rocky road for other political parties in the upcoming 2014 senatorial elections and next month's senatorial bi-election in Grand Bassa County which we view as a crucial example for Liberia's democracy.

We Are Not only in opposition to the nomination of Cllr. Kokoya as one of the flag bearers of the Unity Party to head the NEC, but also, see the action of the President as a clever attempt to manipulate future elections in the country.

We Again Urge the Senate to reject Cllr. Kokoya because there is no justification for his nomination as far as the 1986 Elections Law is concerned. Cllr. Kokoya cannot be trusted with the gavel as chairman of the National Elections Commission based on simple reasoning that he has an indelible mark of loyalty to the Unity Party in his heart.

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