Monrovia — The National Elections Commission (NEC) has laid to rest rising campaign issues between the Unity Part (UP) and the Alternative National Congress (ANC) by asking the UP to find other options for its campaign closure scheduled for Saturday, October 7 in order to allow the ANC to have the day.
In recent days there has been war of words between the UP and the ANC over who has the right to carry out campaign activities on this Saturday. Both parties have claimed the rights to owning Saturday October 7, as the day for them to conduct their campaign activities.
In a Press conference Tuesday, October 3, 2017 presided over by Ambassador Jeremiah Sulunteh the ANC vice standard bearer, the Party accused the Unity Party of exerting undue influence on the electoral process to deny other parties the right to freely associate and to get their message out.
According to the ANC, the move by the UP will create tensions amongst partisans which the ANC Vice standard Bearer alleged that the UP is planning to exploit for its own purpose.
On his Facebook page, Mr. Mo Ali, Unity Party campaign spokesman, said the UP, since its formation, has operated peacefully with full adherence to the rule of law.
According to him from the onset of the 2017 elections campaign, the National Election Commission (NEC) requested all political parties and independent candidates participating in the elections to submit their campaign activity plans for the duration of the campaign, a requirement that the UP fully adhered to.
Ali said: "In fact, the Chairman of the NEC, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, in one of his press conferences alluded to the fact that as of that press conference, the UP was the only party that had submitted its campaign activity plan.
"On August 25, 2017, the UP secretariat officially communicated with the Liberia National Police (LNP) and the NEC informing the two entities of its campaign launch and closing activities which the party scheduled for September 16 and October 7 respectively.
On the same day, the UP also wrote the Liberia Football Association (LFA) for the use of the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) for its campaign launch on September 16, 2017 and campaign closure on October 7, 2017."
In Cllr Jerome Korkoya's statement during his Wednesday weekly press briefing, he admitted to claims by the UP of submitting their campaign time table since August 25 but said, the UP did not specify a location for their campaign closure.
According to the NEC chair, unlike the UP, the ANC were specific about location for campaign launch in their campaign agenda presented to the NEC.
Korkoya said; "In the interest of Public safety the National Elections Commission has informed the Unity party that it should look at other options for holding its rally.
An official letter is being sent presently. We have explained to them that the ANC submitted their full details of the event first and in the interest of fairness the national Elections Commission believes it should be able to hold its rally on the 7th of October."
In further comments Korkoya assured the Public that the UP informed the NEC that they were considering the position of the commission and will revert to the commission and that the Commission was convinced that its position in the matter will be acted by all parties.
Mo Ali further provided evidence by posting on his Facebook page a snap-shot of the letter sent to the NEC. He explained on his Facebook page that all of the communications are proof that the UP, as per her campaign activity plan, did comply with the election laws throughout the campaign period.
"In the spirit of peace and accommodation for other political parties, the UP upon hearing that the Alternative National Congress (ANC) was planning its campaign closure on the same date and was intending to use the ATS, the UP decided to find an alternative venue for its campaign closure program.
In the same spirit of accommodation, the UP also decided that it will not hold a parade; instead, its partisan and supporters will simply assemble for the campaign closure program at the designated venue. Additionally, the UP decided to move its campaign closure program far away from the city of Monrovia to the City of Paynesville.
"We also like to inform the ANC that a precedent was set in 2011 when the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and the UP were allowed by the NEC to hold their respective campaign closure rallies on the same date (Sunday, October 9, 2011). No untoward incident occurred in spite of the fact that these political parties are widely considered to be the two largest political parties in Liberia," Ali added.
Official campaigning period ends on Sunday at 12:00 mid-night this weekend. According to the NEC, campaign activities have been largely peaceful.
The NEC chair also reminded political parties and independent candidates that pursuant to the powers afforded the commission by section 5.1b of the regulations and guidelines relating to political parties and independent candidates the campaign will end at midnight on Sunday 8, October 2017 in line with the published election calendar.