12 September 2017

Liberia: Ellen On NEC's Back

Photo: Liberian Government
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Though not in the race of twenty contenders for the race to the Executive Mansion this time around, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf still sees herself an embodiment of Liberia's current democratic trajectory, wanting to see to best out of the current electioneering process.

Making use of every platform put at her disposal, she reminds the nation of significance of the election and such should be conducted in an atmosphere of fairness, freeness and transparency. As The New Republic reports, the President used a platform at the headquarters of the NEC to accentuate the importance of the elections, terming it "Defining moment."

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is not stopping at anything in reminding the National Elections Commission (NEC) and by extension to entire nation of the significance the pending election carries in shaping the nation's democratic and developmental course. While at the headquarters of the NEC Monday to commission two of its officials as required by law, the Liberian leader was clear in articulating her views, implicitly reminding Commissioners what is required of them in conducting the process on positive note.

Describing the October 2017 elections as a defining moment for Liberia, she said, "I just want to say to all of you - whether you who are leaders, advisors, employees and consultants; that these elections will be a defining moment for our country."

It is not the first time the president described the votes on October 10 in such manner, which is seen as an expression of her desire for a free, fair and transparent free elections.

According to the Liberian leader who leaves office on the second working Monday in January 2018 when a new president takes office, the elections will determine whether Liberia goes forward and continues to rebuild, reconstruct and promote democracy; or whether we opt to see things going back.

She emphasized the importance of the elections particularly for those who have responsibilities at the level of the National Elections Commission (NEC.)

"We have been very clear in saying that this is one time we want total confidence in the elections; and that means you must be neutral, as the population prepares to exercise their constitutional rights at the polls," she stressed.

The Liberian leader underscored that free, fair and transparent elections set the stage for Liberia to continue on the path of democracy, thus enabling the country to remain on the road to peace.

She added that the elections are supported by the Government of Liberia in spite of difficult financial strain being experienced. She noted Liberia did not get the kind of support anticipated from partners for the 2017 elections. She however reiterated government's continued support to free, fair and credible elections.

However, the electoral body that comprises some of the best minds Liberia boasts of, has dogged in the heels that the elections would be as free, fair and transparent as possible, endeavoring to allays fear in some political quarters about its credibility.

NEC's chairman Cllr. Jerome Korkoya on behalf of the Commission pledged the readiness of the team to do a fantastic job for the nation the world will adore.

Expressing explicit confidence in NEC's ability to conduct free and fair elections come October, he cited successful by-elections and the 2014 special senatorial elections it has conducted successfully - for which the international community graded the Commission high.

Alleged American citizens claim continue to hunt the NEC boss as it has caused Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh to pull out of the race, citing unconstitutionality of the exercise.

He has since accused the NEC boss of having dual nationality and such is not qualified to head the electoral body, as doing so renders the process unconstitutional and illegitimate.

More besides, hitches to publish voters names is causing apprehension in many political quarters. The opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has called for the NEC to publish the voter roll.

The same is the National Democratic Institute (NDI) which wants the NEC to act as promptly as possible in ensuing the process is free, fair and transparent.

Cllr. Korkoya who spoke Monday at the headquarters of NEC when President Sirleaf commissioned officials of the Commission thanked her (President Sirleaf) and government for the level of support given the NEC although the country is experiencing financial crises. He assured the President Sirleaf of nothing less than free, fair and credible elections for all.

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