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

 

 

 

Liberians Still Weary Over Unsettled Elections; Want Run-off Held

The weariness of Liberians over the fate of their electoral process now dogged by legal hurdles after four parties sued against results of the first round on 7 October 2017 charging “massive fraud and irregularities” could soon be settled at the apex court in the country.

Liberia Elections
Liberians Display Voting Cards

The opposition Liberty Party sued demanding a rerun of the presidential and legislative elections meant to produce a president expected to succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who was democratically elected, a historic moment since 3 January 1944 when Edwin J. Barclay turned over to William VS Tubman.

Following weeks of legal arguments, the hearing officer at the National Elections Commission adjudged that evidence adduced by lawyers of the Liberty party, the ruling Unity Party as well as opposition Alternative National Congress and All Liberian People’s Party was not sufficient to necessitate a rerun of the poll.

But the aggrieved parties appealed to NEC’s board of commissioners which swiftly upheld the decision. But the Supreme Court, which has seven days to dispose of the matter, has confirmed receiving an appeal from the aggrieved parties against the decision.

Political Parties Leadera in Liberia
Political Leaders in Liberia

Perhaps conscious of the race to beat the 16 January deadline for induration of a new president to avoid a constructional crisis, Liberians are hopeful the court will act expeditiously to pave way for the runoff poll between incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai and opposition leader George Weah who came 28.8 percent and 38 percent respectively in the first round of elections.

Meanwhile, public opinion is divided with youngsters who comprise majority of the population up in arms saying this is the time for Weah who resembles their kind to win while elder citizens on the other hand differ insisting Weah lacks sufficient experience and education to govern Liberia at this time demanding sophistication.

Notwithstanding the protracted court proceedings marked by bitter war of words involving supporters of candidates Weah and Boakai on radio talk shows there has been no reported violence.

By Our Correspondent TK Sannah in Monrovia

Liberia: Liberty Party To Appeal Dismissal of Its Complaint By NEC

MONROVIA (Reuters) – Following the dismissal of its complaint by the electoral commission of Liberia, the opposition Liberty Party (LP) now says it will appeal the decision to the country’s high court.

LP Leader Charles W. Brumskine
LP Leader Charles W. Brumskine

The LP had charged that the October 10th Presidential and General Elections were unfair and flawed with fraud.

The small West African country is now in a political impasse due to the cancellation of a run-off election which was set for October 7th between the candidate of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Senator George M.  Weah and incumbent Vice President and candidate of the ruling Unity Party Joseph N.  Boakai.

The LP placed third in the October 10th elections but maintains that the voting was fraudulent and initially petitioned Liberia’s Supreme Court to halt the run-vote scheduled for November 7th.

Following a hearing before the full bench of the Supreme Court in Monrovia, the Court ordered a stay on the run-off vote and instructed the country’s National Elections Commission(NEC) to hear and dispose of the complaint of the LP.

NEC-Chairman
NEC-Chairman Jerome Korkoyah

In a decision last week, a hearing officer of the NEC  dismissed the LP’s complaint of voting fraud.

The LP says it is not surprised by the dismissal of its complaint by the NEC and vowed to appeal to the country’s Supreme Court.

The current delay in electing a successor to two time incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is threatening a constitutional crisis, if not resolved quickly.

The U.S. and European Union have both called for quick resolutions to  the election impasse and legal issues.

International observers of the October 10th Presidential and General Elections have said there were no major issues which would affect the result of the elections.

West African Journal Magazine

Liberia’s Supreme Court Temporarily Halts Run-Off Elections Preparations

Liberian Justices
Liberia Supreme Court Justices

Philadelphia, PA USA: A potential Constitutional crisis is looming in the small West African nation of Liberia with a ruling overnight by the high court halting preparations for the run-elections scheduled for November 7th.The opposition Liberty Party (LP) in a petition filed with the Supreme Court alleged “fraud and irregularities” in the first round of Presidential and General Elections held on October 10th.

Unless the LP can obtain a favorable disposition of their petition and a scheduled re-run of the elections in time to allow for the inauguration of a new Administration, incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will remain in office past her constitutional term which ends in January.

Liberty Party ticket
Liberty Party Charles Brumskine and Harrison Kanwea

The Supreme Court has requested the petitioners, the Liberty Party and counsels for the National Elections Commission (NEC) to appear on Thursday for a hearing. According to the Court, the temporary stay on the pending run-off does not invalidate the results of the October 10th Presidential contest.

The Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led by Senator George Weah came in with 38.4 percent of the votes compared to incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party at 28.8 percent. Both candidates are slated to contest the run-off elections.

Justices of the Supreme Court deliberated late into Tuesday on the LP’s petition and issued the ruling which in effect halts preparation for the run-off elections pending a full hearing into the merits of the petition.

The ruling Unity Party (UP) of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Alternative National Congress (ANC) say they back the position of the Liberty Party.

Three political parties including the All Liberian Party(ALP), the ruling Unity Party (UP) and the lead petitioner in the case Liberty Party (LP) , in a statement issued on Sunday in Monrovia, allege that fraud, interference and irregularities were widespread in the October 10th elections. The Alternative National Congress (ANC) says it supports the Liberty Party (LP) in its petition now pending before the Supreme Court.

President Johnson-Sirleaf’s own party has accused her of interfering with the elections process, surreptitiously meeting with the head of the electoral body and withholding a full throated endorsement of her Vice President Joseph Boakai who is one of many candidates seeking to replace her.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

President Johnson-Sirleaf has rejected the accusations of personal “interference.” Social media is abuzz with various reactions from Liberians; from conspiracy theories of plans to install an interim government to sentiments that the ruling party is maneuvering to remain in office indefinitely.

Reports from Monrovia say police are patrolling areas in the capital Monrovia and there is heavy security presence around the Temple of Justice, the seat of the high court and the offices of the National Elections Commission (NEC).

There is an unusual quietude around Monrovia.
The National Elections Commission says it will abide by the stay order on preparations for the run-off elections.

Reporting by Emmanuel Abalo