US To End DED Protection For Liberians

US President Donald Trump is directing his Departments of State and Homeland Security to end to a humanitarian program that allowed thousands of Liberians in the United States to reside temporarily.

The Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) for Liberians which expires Friday was last extended by President Obama.

But now Trump is ordering a final one more year extension following which it will be ended for good.

Liberians and some lawmakers in the US had been campaigning for another extension.

It is unclear what effort was exerted by the new Weah Administration to influence the Trump administration.

Some Liberians in the US expressed great disappointment and also directed their anger at the Liberian government for the lack of engagement to persuade the US to grant them permanent residency.

The exact number of Liberians affected is unknown. Some estimates put the number at 4,000 while others say the number is higher.

Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

Senator George Weah Leads In Provisional Results of Run-Off Election

Presidential Run-off Preliminary Results 2017   

Provisional results of Liberia’s run-off elections held Tuesday and announced by the country’s electoral body indicate that WEAH, George Manneh (CDC) HOWARD-TAYLOR, Jewel C. (CDC) Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)-CDC, NPP & LPDP with 720,023 or 61.5% while incumbent Vice President BOAKAI, Joseph Nyuma (UP) NUQUAY, Emmanuel James (UP) Unity Party (UP) gained 451,088 or 38.5%.

Liberia
Liberia

This preliminary result represents 5,286 of 5,390 (98.1%) Polling Places Reporting.

It now appears Senator Weah is on track to be the next President of Liberia and succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirlead who has led the small African country for the last 12 years.

In the first round of voting held on October 10th, the ruling Unity Party (UP) led by incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai gained 28.8% of the vote while the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) of Senator George Weah collected 38.4%. As the two highest voter getters, they were eligible to contest the run-off elections.

Liberian Voters At Rally Town Market jpg
Liberian Voters At Rally Town Market

The second round of voting was delayed due to legal challenges filed against the conduct of the process by the third place winner in the first round – the Liberty Party(LP) which cited “fraud and irregularities”. Following an investigation by the National Elections Commission (NEC) the LP’s claims were dismissed. A second challenge by the ruling UP to delay the run-off was over ruled by the country’s high court. An estimated two million Liberians were eligible to vote. However, voter turn-out was low across the country.

International observers say the polls were better organized than the first round in October with no major issues. According to the electoral body, a woman who attempted to vote twice was caught and turned over to police. The head of the regional economic grouping ECOWAS observation mission and former President of Ghana John Mahama described the conduct of the run-off elections as “free and fair.” The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has welcomed the peaceful vote in the country.

The new President will be inaugurated in January, in line with the country’s Constitution and serve a six-year term.

West African Journal Magazine

 

Counting Underway Following Run-Off Elections in Liberia

Counting is underway in the west African country of Liberia following voting in crucial run off elections on Tuesday.

Political Subdivision Map of Liberia
Political Subdivision Map of Liberia

The winner will replace two-term incumbent and Nobel Peace Laureate Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

Contestants are incumbent Vice President of the ruling Unity Party (UP) Joseph Boakai and former international football star turned Senator George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)

Both candidates cast their votes earlier on Tuesday and each said they were confident of winning. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf voted in Bomi County, her hometown.

Liberians Waiting To Vote
File Photo of Liberians Waiting To Vote

The polls are being observed by local and international organizations and community who, late on Tuesday, said the polls were better organized than the first round. The voting passed of peacefully. across the country.

The BBC reports that turn out was relatively low compared to the first round on October 10th. Nearly two million Liberians were eligible to vote in the run-off which will see the peaceful transfer of state power in over 70 years..

The country’s electoral body is expected to announced the results later this week, The new President will be inaugurated in January.

West African Journal Magazine

 

Liberia: Local Daily Warns Candidate Weah About His Recent “Endorsements”

A local daily in Liberia is warning the leader of the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Senator George Weah about  the intentions and the plethora of sudden endorsements from some political leaders and organizations in the run-up to the second round of the Presidential Election scheduled for Tuesday, December 26.

Senator George-Weah
Liberia Presidential Candidate Senator George M. Weah

In an editorial entitled  Weah, Be Careful of Endorsements published on Tuesday, the Daily Observer newspaper cited as “puzzling”, Weah’s recent endorsement by Senator Prince Y. Johnson of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) political party and three executives of the Liberty Party (LP) which included Ben Sanvee, Party Chairman, Harrison Kanwea, the running mate of its Presidential candidate Counselor Charles W. Brumskine and the former Campaign Manager of the LP Mr. Musa Bility .

LP Leader Charles Walker Brumkine
LP Leader Charles Walker Brumkine

The LP executives, prior to their endorsement, did not consult or obtain the consent of their party leader Counselor Brumskine. In a rather bizarre endorsement stunt on last Thursday in Monrovia, the three UP executives announced their endorsement of Senator Weah and displayed t-shirts with the photos of their Standard Bearer and Vice Standard Bearer and the super-imposed image of Senator Weah to insinuate that the Liberty Party hierarchy had fully endorsed its rival Senator Weah of the CDC.

The Liberian newspaper, in questioning the growing list of endorsements for Senator Weah noted, ” What does this reaction entail in the stream of endorsements the CDC political leader continues to receive from people in the pending runoff election?” In warning the CDC leader, the paper cited what it called the “deceit” perpetrated by the LP executives in presenting their party leader as endorsing Senator Weah and the CDC.

Counselor Brumskine who was out of the country when the endorsements were announced but has now returned home has termed the “endorsements” of his party officials as an attempt to embarrass him.

“The first deceit Weah and the CDC should note is that these men have presented Brumskine as being in support of Weah, contrary to what Brumskine has said. The LP standard bearer did not even know of Weah’s endorsement by three of his (Brumskine) closest allies. Another thing Weah needs to be warned of is that while these men have their constitutional right to choose whomever they may, they have visibly demonstrated some level of insincerity and unfairness by plotting against their political leader by taking such a major   decision without his knowledge, and doing it so hurriedly that they could not even wait until he returned to the country. The average observer would consider this nothing short of a stab in the back,” the Daily Observer maintained in its editorial.

Senator Prince Y. Johnson
Senator Prince Y. Johnson

Senator Prince Y. Johnson
According to its editorial, the Daily Observer noted that, “The euphoria became exceedingly high when Nimba County Senator Prince Y. Johnson, standard bearer of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR), endorsed Weah following the October poll”.

Harrison Kanwea
Harrison Kanwea

Harrison Karnwea
On the record of the LP Vice Presidential candidate Mr Kanwea who endorsed Senator Weah, the paper wrote “… So, what hope can you, Mr. Weah, have for votes in a man whose county refused to support him in a national election in which he was a vice presidential candidate? Moreover, Mr. Kanwea and his group are clearly demonstrating the plot that occurred between the Roman emperor Julius Caesar and Brutus. Are you, Mr. Weah, taking note of the kind of people from the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration joining your party?”

LP Chairman Ben Sanvee
LP Chairman Ben Sanvee

Ben Sanvee
The Daily Observer reminded its readers about the prior statement of the LP Chairman Ben Sanvee against Senator Weah. “…During the 2014 special senatorial election, Ben Sanvee was your main contender who is still on record for boldly stating that “Weah makes mistakes in every statement and sentence he makes. Today, Sanvee has, without consulting his political leader, endorsed you with this statement, “Weah has been blessed to conquer the world using his legs.” Yes, he trusted his feet, as the emphasis indicates, but does Sanvee think Weah also trusts his head to deliver? What made Sanvee change his mind?” the paper questioned.
In concluding its editorial position on the endorsements, the Daily Observer warned that “…Now Weah’s popularity among the grass rooters has grown to the peak, and the officials who worked in government are flooding into the CDC.
Yes, we cannot be unmindful of the well-known fact that “Politics makes strange bedfellows.” But consider this  other age-old dictum: “A hint to the wise is quite sufficient.”

It can be recalled that the LP led by Counselor Charles W. Brumskine, following the first round of voting on October 10th and coming third in the polls, alleged that the process was tainted by “fraud and irregularities” and filed legal suit to challenge the result and the conduct of the run-off elections.

NEC Chair Jerome Korkoya
NEC Chair Jerome Korkoya

The country’s electoral body, on instructions from the Supreme Court, investigated the LP’s claims of fraud and subsequently dismissed them. The LP then filed another appeal to the country’s highest court but was over ruled with instructions to the National Elections Commission (NEC) to clean up the voters’ roll before the conduct of the run-off vote.

Civil society groups and individuals have requested proof from the NEC that it has complied with the Supreme Court’s instructions to clean up the voters’ roll. In a press statement issued on last Friday, the NEC announced that it is undertaking several measures to comply with the Supreme Court’s mandate and include:

1. Removal of Multiple Voter IDs

…There are 998 voters affected by the multiplicity of Voter IDs- sharing 488 Voters IDs. The proposed solution is to retain existing Voter IDs for 488 Voters (the first voter that registered with an ID retains the Voter ID) and issue new IDs for the remaining 510 voters.
An Inclusion Form (a variant of the OMR Form) is filled for each of the 510 voters, and scanned. The new records generated will be used to replace the existing record on the FRR. This therefor means that the roll that will be printed and displayed at the polling places and also used for the runoff will bear the new Voter IDs for the 510 voters.
A new voter card will be created for each of these 510 voters and would be exchanged for the old Voter Cards at the Polling Places on or before the Election Day.
The new FRR will have an indicator for this set of voters, to ease the identification on Election Day.
On completion of this assignment, a list of affected voters, with their old voter IDs and newly generated voter IDs would be created and shared with the Political Parties.

1. Further de-duplication of the FRR
NEC carried out an initial de-duplication before the FRR was published in September 2017, where 4,567 multiple registrations were removed from the voter roll.
However, with the decision of the Supreme Court to conduct a full clean-up of the FRR, it was agreed that the FRR should be further checked for multiple registrations. Due to non-biometric nature of the voter roll, de-duplication process is quite time consuming as it involves a lot of manual checks and re-checks to confirm multiple registrations before they are removed from the roll.
It has been agreed that due to time limitations, this process would start immediately. This will enable the timely update of the voter roll for printing, in preparation for the publication.
At the end of this assignment, a list of the suspected multiples, the records removed and those retained will be generated and shared with the Political Parties.

2. Publications of the Final Registration Roll
The printing of the voter roll in hard copies will be display at each Precinct and Polling Places Nationwide before the runoff election; is being worked on between NEC and the ECOWAS Technical Team.

3. Availability of FRR in Hard-Copies to Election Magistrates and Polling Places
NEC and ECOWAS are also working on this in accordance with the two procedures above.

4. Limiting the Eligibility to Vote to only those on the FRR
This shall be adhered to. Only voters whose names are on the FRR would be allowed to vote. The necessary documentation will be adjusted accordingly.

5. Limitations of the addendum to FRR to those listed in NEC’s Polling and Counting Manual
This shall be adhered to. Only those on special assignments at the Polling Places around the Country, such as members of the election security sector, NEC officials, international observer drivers and escorts would be allowed to vote in the Polling Places other than where they are registered, using the addendum to FRR. The necessary documentation will be adjusted accordingly.

6. Limiting the eligibility to vote for poll watchers to their being on the FRR and at their Precinct and Polling Places.
This shall be adhered to. Poll watchers will only be allowed to vote at their Precincts and Polling Places. The necessary documentation will be adjusted accordingly.
The joint Technical Team, comprising the ECOWAS and NEC, shall implement the above-mentioned directives of the Supreme Court of Liberia, the NEC announced.

ANC Leader Alexander B. Cummings Jr
ANC Leader Alexander B. Cummings Jr.

The fifth place holder in the first round of voting, the Alternative National Congress (ANC) says it will not support any of the two candidates in the run-off elections. The ANC’s position has been strongly criticized by a former warlord turned Senator Prince Y. Johnson whose Movement for Democracy and Recontruction (MDR) came fourth in the October 10th polling.

The run-off election will pit incumbent Vice President Joseph N. Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP) against Senator George M. Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) on next Tuesday and the winner will replace two term incumbent Ms. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine