Liberia: Dec. 26 Runoff Could Be Stalled Again

Women protest outside the Elections Commission offices.

Four days after the National Elections Commission announced December 26 as the day for the conduct of the runoff presidential election, the Unity Party (UP) has filed a lawsuit at the Supreme Court against the commission, pointing to its ineffectiveness in the management of the NEC and that its Chairman, Jerome Korkoya, could not oversee, manage and operate the runoff election impartially and without prejudice.

"Coupled with proven evidence of deliberate violations of the Constitution and Elections Law, Korkoya and his Executive Director, who directly supervised and managed the October 10 presidential and legislative elections, should and ought to have tendered his resignation," the UP said.

"With arrogance, Korkoya and the Executive Director have failed to do so, and that the continued involvement of the pair in the organizing and running of the runoff elections offends the spirit of the mandate of the court for a free, fair and transparent runoff."

The UP is praying for "specific orders for Korkoya and the Executive Director to recuse themselves from handling the runoff process."

Justifying their contention, the UP explained that on December 8, while they were waiting for the Court's full opinion, they addressed a letter to Korkoya requesting for a meeting with the two parties with the view to discuss and arrive at a consensus on the modalities for a full cleanup of the contentious Final Registration Roll (FRR).

"Again on December 9, the Board of Commission of the NEC invited the contesting parties, CDC and UP, for the reading of the mandate of the court at which meeting Korkoya came in with no agenda or proposal as to how the clean-up should be done, or how the NEC and the two political parties can collaborate in this regard," the UP indicated.

The UP claimed that Korkoya created the impression that the FRR was already cleaned "which impression defies the court judgment." During the meeting, the record noted, both CDC and UP representatives agreed that they would clean the FRR prior to the runoff election, which should be a matter of compelling necessity.

"As the meeting being intense on the matter of cleaning-up of the FRR, Korkoya ended it in a rather abrupt manner with the promise that he was going to cite the parties to another one. Up to the filing of the of complaint, the NEC has failed and refused to cite the parties.

"That in an effort to move the process forward, representatives of the UP and CDC met on December 10, and agreed on what full cleaning up of the FRR shall entail, which they reduced into writing and submitted it to the NEC as the parties' recommendation regarding the exercise, which the NEC failed to do," the UP alleged.

Consequently, UP's lawyer Benedict Sannoh addressed a second letter to the NEC, urging it to comply with the mandate of the court by forging a collaboration and consultation with the two parties.

Unfortunately, the UP contended, on December 12, Korkoya announced that the runoff election will be conducted on December 26, against which they have registered their opposition.

"The NEC announcement for the date of the runoff constitutes an irregular and improper execution of the court's mandate," the document alleged.

The Supreme Court, on December 7, handed down a judgment in the case involving Liberty Party (LP) and the UP versus the NEC over irregularities and fraud that marred the conduct of the October 10 presidential and legislative elections, of which the court mandated the NEC to clean up the Final Registration Roll (FRR).

Besides, the court ordered that the cleaning of the FRR must be done in consultation with the UP and Coalition for Democratic Change, the two political parties that obtained the highest number of valid votes -- though not an absolute majority -- during the October 10 elections, and would participate in the runoff.

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