Liberia: NEC Sets Dangerous Precedence

-For 2020 in election dispute ruling

The National Election Commissions' (NEC) Board of Commissioners' ruling upholding the previous decision of its hearing officers citing an undefined "public policy" reason appears to set a dangerous precedence for 2020 Senatorial election.

The NEC Board of Commissioners on Thursday denied and dismissed an appeal filed by Mr. Abu Kamara of the Coalition for Democratic Change or CDC in the disputed Montserrado County District #15 by-election days after its hearing officers called for a rerun of the disputed electoral centers.

"Based on the factual, legal and public policy reasons contained in the said ruling, same is hereby confirmed and affirmed," the NEC Board of Commissioners said in their decision Thursday August 22, 2019 ruling.The NEC Board of Commissioners said the date of the rerun will be announced in two working days.

The ruling follows an appeal filed by lawyers representing the ruling CDC Abu Kamara in the disputed polls.

Las week, NEC Hearing Officer presiding over the electoral fraud case called for a rerun of the poll in all 20 quarantined centers within 10 working days.

But the ruling was challenged by the CDC on grounds that NEC in its own ruling acknowledged that there was no fraud and irregularities and therefore it felt cheated out of its rightfully earned result.

Mr. Kamara argument is that if there were no fraud, then it means that the votes in question are valid and that there should not be a rerun but rather a recount since the ballot boxes from the said centers are believed to still be intact.

One of the lawyers representing the CDC candidate, Atty. Wleh described the NEC Board of Commissioners ruling as illegal seizure of legitimate votes and also a coup against democracy. He said the tally sheets show that "Abu obtained legitimate votes."

The case is a fall out of a complaint of irregularities and electoral fraud filed against the ruling party and NEC by Ms. Telia Urey of the four collaborating opposition political parties following the July 29 by-election in the district.Provisional results released by the NEC places Ms. Urey at 42.68 percent, ahead of CDC's Abu Kamara, 41.48 percent.

In his ruling Wednesday, 14 August at the heavily guarded NEC headquarters in Monrovia, Hearing Officer Cllr. Munah Ville said Ms. Urey could not adequately provide pictorial evidences to prove beyond reasonable doubt, that there were discrepancies. However, he rule that there should be a rerun of the election in the disputed centers within the district. The CDC has vowed to take the matter before the Supreme Court.

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