Liberia: Protesters Demand Korkoya's Resignation

An Elections Commission official outside a polling station (file photo).

National Elections Commission (NEC) Chairman Jerome Korkoya's recent pronouncement setting December 26 as the date for the runoff election without having first cleaned up the Final Registration Roll (FRR) has provoked strong reactions from the public with calls from several quarters for his resignation or immediate dismissal.

It can be recalled that following the October 10 elections, its results were challenged by the Liberty Party(LP), Unity Party(UP) and the All Liberian Party(ALP) who prayed the Supreme Court to annul the elections results. They contended that the elections were characterized by fraud and gross irregularities which, in their opinion, constituted sufficient grounds for the annulment of the results.

But the Supreme Court differed with the position taken by the protesting parties, arguing that while it is true there were instances of fraud and irregularities, they were not of the scope and magnitude that would have necessitated the annulment of the results. And rather than ordering a rerun of the exercise as prayed for by the parties, the Supreme Court instead opted for a runoff and ordered the NEC to proceed with it based on the attainment of certain benchmarks, principal among which was the cleanup of the FRR.

However, barely a week following the Supreme Court's decision, NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya announced a runoff date (December 26) without satisfying the public as well as the runoff contestants that the FRR had been cleaned as mandated by the Supreme Court in its ruling. This sudden decision taken by Chairman Korkoya has, however, not gone down well with the UP, who sources say is considering filing a Bill of Information to the Supreme Court alerting it to what the party says is Korkoya's flagrant disregard of its mandate.

And as it appears, members of the public have become seized of the matter and have gone a step further by mounting public protests before the NEC headquarters demanding the dismissal or immediate resignation of Chairman Korkoya. Yesterday, a group of protesters led by businessman George Kailondo expressing disenchantment with Korkoya's actions blocked the main entrance of the Commission's headquarters calling on him to step down as chairman of the NEC.

Holding aloft placards with inscriptions such as "Korkoya must resign from NEC," "Korkoya you cannot chair NEC," "Liberians love peace! Korkoya must go!!" and "Korkoya your time is over," among several other slogans, the group approached the NEC building on 10th Street and blocked its entrance. A statement demanding Korkoya's resignation was read by social activist John Pangbe, who cited Korkoya's lack of independence and his unwillingness to abide by the recommendations of the Supreme Court, among others.

He condemned Chairman Korkoya's refusal to strictly abide by the Supreme Court's mandate as indicated by his unilateral announcement of the date for the runoff without the inputs of the Unity Party (UP) and the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), the two political parties qualified to go into the runoff.

It may be recalled that on Tuesday, December 12, the NEC Chairman, Jerome Korkoya, announced the date for the runoff election and signaled the go-ahead for the UP and CDC to begin campaigning as of the date of the announcement to 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, December 24.

The NEC Chairman revealed that a technical team from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is due to arrive in the country (hopefully the same day he was announcing the runoff date) to help the Commission deal with the Final Registration Roll (FRR) before the runoff day.

Cllr. Korkoya, responding to a Daily Observer article on Monday, Nov. 11, titled: 'NEC Unwilling to Comply with Supreme Court's Mandate?' said he had no reason not to abide by the Supreme Court's decision to, among other things, clean up the FRR.

Yesterday's group, led by Kailondo, with the support of Arkie Moore, All Liberian Party's youth chairman and Telia Urey, one of Benoni Urey's daughters, promised to return to the NEC headquarters today to continue to demand Chairman Korkoya's resignation.

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