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 NEC Meets International Groups, Carter Center/NDI September 7th, 2017

By: Prince Dunbar-Communications Officer

With exactly 33 days to go before the conduct of the 2017 Presidential and Representative Elections in Liberia, authorities of the National Elections Commission, (NEC) led by its Chairman Cllr. Jerome Korkoya have been engaged in a number of consultations, briefing international elections Groups on the level of preparations and challenges by the Commission.

International delegations who held discussions at the Headquarters of the Commission with authorities of NEC were the American based Groups, Carter Center and the National Democratic Institute, NDI.

On Wednesday, September 5, 2017, and today Thursday September 7, 2017 a three-man team from the American International Observation Elections Monitoring group, Cater Center and the NDI paid acquaintance visits respectively to the NEC.

In separate statements by the head of Cater Center delegation, Director Meaghan Fitzgerald and the head of NDI Ambassador Johnnie Carson, former Assistant United States Secretary of State for African Affairs, said the visit to the Commission were intended to clarify a number of elections related matters including the earlier possible release of the Voter Registration final figures, Candidate Nomination, thirty Percent Women Participation in Political Parties as well as legal challenges, or election dispute resolution  mechanisms confronting the Commission.

Other members of the Carter Center International Election Observation Mission delegation also raised concerns over the Code of Conduct were Deputy Director Nick Jahr and the Legal Analyst Manuel Sanchez de Nogues.

Earlier, NEC Chairman Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, in his briefings to the Carter Center and NDI delegations and in response to questions raised by the two delegations said, the Commission was well on schedule to conduct free, fair, transparent and credible elections on October 10, 2017.

However, Cllr. Korkoya was quick to indicate that there are still a number of other challenges facing the Commission such as plans to contract a Helicopter Company to air lift sensitive elections materials to inaccessible areas in the country, mainly the South-Eastern region of Grand Kru, Maryland, Sinoe and some parts of Nimba Counties.

The NEC Boss said ongoing discussions are taken place with the United Nations Mission in Liberia or UNMIL to assists with further logistical arrangements.

He spoke of the lack of Registered Political Parties to apply entirely with the elections laws and regulations including Campaign Financing and Assets Declarations as provided for under Article 83 (d) of the Liberian Constitution. Cllr. Korkoya said the Commission was seriously reviewing the situation and intends to implement the laws, not ruling out de-registration of Parties. Article 83 (d) says every Political Party shall, on September 1 of each year, and every Candidate of such Party and every Independent Candidate shall, not later thirty 30 days prior to the holding of an election in which he is an Candidate publish and submit detail statements of assets and liabilities.

“The Commission will use private Auditing Firms and not the Government Auditing Commission to help the Commission address these issues, the NEC Boss told the Carter Center delegation. 

On the question of ensuring 30 percent women’s participation and the position of the Commission to continue the Inter Party Consultative Committee, IPCC, Chairman Korkoya said, the issue of 30 percent participation of female Candidates was another badly written statue but said the Commission was doing all it can in keeping with the law to address these serious concerns. The NEC Boss told the NDI delegation on September 7, that in keeping with the electoral timetable and law, the Commission will distribute the final voter register starting on September 10, 2017 at its 19 Magisterial Offices around the country. “The process of cleaning the roll has been completed and the list is now ready”, Cllr. Korkoya said.

On the question of election disputes resolution, the Chairman said, the Commission is properly prepared to deal with any matter after conducting intensive electoral disputes hearing trainings for its 19 Magistrates and 4 Regional Coordinators to handle first hand cases at the County level, and that the Hearing Office is well equipped with additional hired lawyers to deal with disputes after appeals from Magistrates and that the Board of Commissioners reminds the final instance of justice at the Commission before any aggrieved party can seek final redress at the Supreme Court of Liberia, the final arbiter of the law.

Chairman Korkoya, backed by the Co-Chairperson Cllr. Sarah Toe, Commissioners Jonathan Weedor, Samuel Joe, Commissioner and Cllr. Jeannette Ebba-Davidson and Boakai Dukuly said under the laws, as provided for in Article 83d of the Liberian Constitution, political parties are required to submit audited accounts and declaration of assets on September 1, 2017. The Commission says as per the record only 9 registered political parties have submitted these requirements.

The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet to make a decision on the parties that have not met the legal deadline, said Chairman Korkoya.  

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