17 November 2017

Liberia: UP Disagrees With U.S. Position On Run-Off Election

Photo: Joseph Boakai
Joseph Boakai, Liberia's Vice President

The lawyer representing the ruling Unity Party (UP) has openly expressed concern over a statement the United States Government issued through its Embassy in Monrovia, urging authorities of the National Elections Commission (NEC) to proceed with the run-off elections, despite unresolved allegations of irregularities and fraud.

Arguing for a request demanding that the NEC makes available to the UP all records of the October 10 presidential and legislative elections, which is now at the center of the controversy, Cllr. Benedict Sannoh, accused the US Government of losing sight of the fact and nature of the party's complaint.

UP is seeking for a copy of the Final Registration Roll (FRR) for the October 10 elections, and copies of the addenda to the voter roll made at the polling centers nationwide.

It also asked for copies of the worksheet of the NEC's Presiding Officer, who was arrested in Electoral District #3 in Nimba County with pre-marked ballots.

UP is also asking for records of the investigation conducted by the NEC on a staff at the office of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The staff in question was arrested with a machine for allegedly printing Voter Registration Cards and other election materials at his New Georgia home.

In a release on Wednesday, the US Embassy accredited near Monrovia said it has confidence in the integrity of the hotly contested October 10 presidential and representative elections now embroiled in controversy and a legal tangle. The Embassy indicated that no accredited Liberian, regional, or international observation group suggested that the cumulative anomalies observed reflect systemic issues sufficient to undermine the fundamental integrity of the electoral process.

Before his argument, Sannoh told the gathering, many of whom were staff of the embassy, that for elections to be free, fair and transparent, "it must first be legal and meet the approval of all parties."

"For the embassy and other international bodies to say we should proceed with the run-off, because it was free, fair and transparent, is not the matter, but its outcomes must reflect the will of the Liberian people," Sannoh said.

He added, "The Americans are losing sight of the fact of the reality of our complaints."

The US Embassy's statement also noted that Liberia's political leaders should take their cue from citizens who waited patiently to vote, and did so with respect for their fellow citizens, regardless of their political views. It added that efforts by any actor to impede the expressed will of Liberians for personal ambition could risk goodwill and future investments in the country by international partners.

"The Liberian people and the international community have worked too hard and invested too much to watch the country's progress stall," the statement said.

The United States said it remains committed to Liberia's future and encourage the citizens to conclude the presidential electoral process as soon as possible to allow the democratic and economic progress to continue. Where issues were identified in the first round of voting, the statement advised, "we urge the National Elections Commission (NEC) to undertake corrective actions before, during, and after the runoff election."

It then urged the top two finishers, the ruling Unity Party Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai and the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), Senator George Weah, who collectively received the support of two-thirds of the voters, to focus on constructively engaging each other and voters as they prepare to compete in the runoff.

Meanwhile Supreme Court's ruling into the UP request is scheduled for today, November 17.

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