19 October 2017

Liberia: Allegations of Elections Foul Play to Trigger Run-Off Endorsement Delays

Photo: FrontPage Africa
Charles Walker Brumskine of the Liberty Party

Monrovia — The barrage of suspected electoral fraud and irregularities has made political parties who did not make it to the runoff elections hesitant to endorse any of the two parties contesting in the November runoff election.

While the ruling Unity Party (UP) and the opposition Coalition for Democratic are intensely lobbying to win over some of the major opposition political parties to complement their strength in the runoff election, most of the parties being relied upon are doubtful over who to support because they feel cheated in the elections.

Liberty Party for example, is calling for reelection on ground that the October 10 polls did not meet the minimum standards to be referred as free, fair, transparent elections.

The standard bearer, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine feels he was robbed of his legitimate votes during the elections. Sure, glaring irregularities during the elections give ground to his grave allegation.

The three-time presidential candidate was so much sure of clinging onto the presidency during these elections and still cannot fathom how he ended up at third place and heavily challenged by political newcomer Alexander Cummings in some counties.

Being an astute lawyer, Brumskine has vowed to exhaust every opportunity provided for by law in seeking redress to the party's concern.

From all look of things, the Liberty Party will not throw its weight behind any of the two political parties expected to contest the runoff election which is about three weeks from now. Perhaps, he may do so after is case is decided by the NEC hearing officer or Supreme Court of Liberia if he's not pleased with the outcome from the NEC hearing office.

The standard bearer of the All Liberia Party (ALP), Benoni Urey, is a close confidant of former President Charles Taylor whose political party - the National Patriotic Party (NPP) - which for the sake of the October 10 elections formed coalition with the Congress for Democratic Change and Liberia People Democratic Party to become the Coalition for Democratic Change.

Taylor's former wife, Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor, was key in ensuring that the coalition deal between the three parties became fruitful. This was after the virtual collapse of the Ganta Declaration.

Urey has a history for financing the CDC political campaign in 2011, but Urey broke ranks with the CDC in 2014 for some reasons he did not explain to the public. But inside sources say Urey left the CDC because the party refused him the opportunity to contest the 2014 senatorial election on its ticket, rather, the idol of the party contested the post.

His All Liberian Party finished 6th place in the just ended election. However, Urey, too, believes he was cheated, claiming that his party is popular in Bong, Margibi and Grand Bassa Counties and that votes from those counties attributed to him did not represent his popularity there. His formal complaint is currently before the hearing officer at the National Elections Commission for adjudication.

Urey remains tight-lipped over who he will support during the runoff as he awaits the hearing from the NEC.

First time runner Alexander Cummings broke his silence on the electoral process on Tuesday, describing the elections as fraudulent and lacking credibility based on the evidence the ANC had gathered so far.

Cummings who was considered the dark horse prior to the elections, remains uncertain as to who he his party will support during the runoff; but with the suspicion that his votes were suppressed, he's making preparations to file a formal complaint to the NEC.

"After much consultation and initial review of substantive evidence, I find it my duty and responsibility as a Liberian that is dedicated to creating change and reform, to explore challenging the purported outcome of the recent election."

"To this end, we have engaged expert assistance to conduct detailed review of our findings with a view to verify and pursue every available avenue, legal and otherwise, to ensure a fair, transparent and valid election result," Cummings told reporters on Tuesday.

Cummings said he cannot make any endorsement at the moment though some political parties have been reaching out to him.

The numerous complaints coming from political parties have triggered very huge security personnel at the headquarters of the National Elections Commission.

Police tanks have been parking at the NEC since election began, in an apparent move to save guard the building and its workers in the wake of riot.

With the withholding of support by these major opposition parties the CDC and the UP will have to work their way through the hurdles of winning the individual supporters of the various parties over, should they make significant difference in the November elections.

Many Liberians who neither voted for the UP nor the CDC argue that while they do not want a continuation of the Unity Party as it has the propensity to returning Liberia to a one party state, they also do not believe that the CDC led by Senator Weah can bring about the much desired change.

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