30 November 2017

Liberia: 'NEC Commited Reversible Errors'

A complaint filed by both Liberty Party (LP) and Unity Party (UP) to the Supreme Court has accused the National Elections Commission (NEC) of committing several reversible errors that demand a rerun of the October 10 presidential and legislative elections.

UP and LP's complaint was filed just four days following the NEC Board of Commission's upholding its Hearing Officer's judgment which denied the claim by the two parties that the October 10 elections were marred with gross irregularities and fraud.

The Supreme Court has seven days as of Monday, November 27, the date LP and UP filed their complaint, to hear and decide the matter.

Outlining the NEC's reversible errors, the parties alleged that allowing Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, chair of the commission whom they have requested to be recused from hearing the matter, to hear the case makes the judgment unconstitutional.

"Chairman Korkoya made public utterances which we believe pre-judged our evidence and important issues in the case, even while the matter was being tried before the NEC's Hearing Officers, knowing that Korkoya would preside over the review of the matter, since we appealed against it," the lawsuit alleged.

The document said, "The refusal of the NEC to have their chairman recuse himself deprives us of our rights to a free and fair hearing."

LP and UP also explained that in Margibi County Precinct#24180 in Polling Place #1, LP poll workers noticed that around 6:30 pm, after polling had closed, and the ballot box was sealed, a group of persons came from the rear of the building and surprisingly the seal on the closed ballot box was broken by the Presiding Officer and those individuals were allowed to vote.

They also alleged that in Bongaplay District#4 Nimba County, the NEC had only three polling places when there should have been four, and there the voters who were being deprived of their constitutional rights to vote took the matter into their own hands and disrupted the voting, thereby making it difficult for others to cast their ballots.

Also in Lofa County Precinct#21128, an LP poll worker was tied, beaten and bruised by a police officer identified as Jefferson Togbah upon the orders of the Presiding Officer, because he had continuously raised issues of counting irregularities, the two Parties alleged.

"Two men who do not appear to be NEC officials, and were unaccompanied by police officer(s), were photographed wading in a body of water with sealed ballot boxes on their heads. Also, individuals whether they were NEC officials or not, in a canoe carrying ballots boxes were unaccompanied by police officers," the record claimed.

Despite these alleged fraud and irregularities, the lawsuit said the Board of Commissioners dismissed their case, although the specific allegations of violation of the Constitution and the Election Laws, the massive fraud, and gross irregularities were all proved.

"The October 10 presidential and legislative elections did not pass the minimum standards required for free, fair and transparent elections given the plethora of evidence in support of our claim that the elections were characterized by gross irregularities and fraud, which undermined the integrity of the elections and deprived thousands of Liberians of their constitutional right to vote," the LP and UP said.

They added, "The violation of the Constitution and Election laws and the pervasiveness of fraud and gross irregularities throughout the electoral process warrant a rerun of the elections."

Up to the publication of this story, the NEC's response was not in the possession of this newspaper.

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