9 May 2018

Liberia: By-Elections 'Cancelled'

The Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoya hasdisclosed that the by-elections in Bong and Montserrado counties will not be held due to lack of funding.

The by-elections were intended to replace Ambassador George Manneh Weah and Madam Jewel Howard Taylor who were elected president and vice president of Liberia during the 2017 presidential election.

Addressing a news conference Tuesday, Cllr. Korkoya said after a communication was sent to the electoral body by the Presiding Officer of the Liberian Senate of two vacancies within the Liberian Senate, the commission submitted a budget of US$3.9 million to the Ministry of Finance, Development Planning for the two by-elections.

Cllr. Korkoya said after the Minister of Finance, Samuel Tweah condemned the budget, a meeting was called by the Chairpersons on Elections at the House of Representatives and Senate at which time the US$3.9 million budget was reduced to US$2.9 million thus cutting down some of the activities for the elections.

According to him, since the commission and the Ministry of Finance agreed on the US$2.9 million budget, the Liberian Government only provided US$500,000 in April, while Liberia's partners including UNDP and European Union (EU) agreed to provide little over US$500,000 in materials.

He contended that US$500,000 cannot conduct the two by-elections in Bong and Montserrrado Counties.

Cllr. Korkoya said due to the recent statement from the Finance Minister on the budget submitted for the by-elections, vendors are now skeptical to provide materials to the commission as NEC usually gets materials from vendors on credit and later paid by the government.

He added that of the US$500,000 provided by the government, the commission has spent US$100,000 on assessment in Bong County, purchased computers for the replacement of lost identification cards, and conducted the Candidates Nomination process in the two counties with 12 candidates qualifying to contest the by-elections in the two counties who are to be notified shortly.

Korkoya said though NEC told the citizens that its staff were to reach out to them for the replacement of lost voter's cards, it has modified the process due to the financial constraints facing the commission.

He said an extra account has been opened by NEC where the remaining amount is to be deposited.

On the issue of setting another date for the conduct of the By-elections, Korkoya said NEC lacks the authority to set a new date.

He said only the Legislature is clothed with the authority to set a date for the by-elections.

However, he said the commission cannot tell the Legislature to set a new electoral date till the government made available the balance US$1.6 million.

He said NEC has identified vendors, done assessment in Bong County and has gone through the PPCC process.

Cllr. Korkoya said when the remaining amount is available then the commission will inform the Legislature to set a new date for the by-elections in the two counties.

He added that the Liberian Government has not made any commitment as to when the remaining amount of US$1.6 million will be made available.

He added that the Writ that was issued for the conduct of the By-elections will remain in place but that some amendments will be made.

The by-elections should have been held on Tuesday May 8, 2018.


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