By: Sallu K. Swaray
The National Elections Commission (NEC) has disclosed that the commission submitted a joint budget of US$ 2.5 million dollars to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to conduct the By-elections in Montserrado County; however, in fulfillment, the government has committed itself to fund these elections in partial fulfillment as of Monday June 17, 2019. The Government of Liberia has deposited the amount of US$ 900,000 United States Dollars and LD$ 114,000,000.00 the latter being USD$600,000.00 converted to Liberian Dollar at the rate of LD$ 194 for a total of USD$1,500,000 into the accounts of the National Elections Commission.
The Chairman of the National Elections Commission, Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoya speaking Tuesday at a news conference held in the James Fromoyan Conference Hall at NEC’s headquarters in Monrovia informed the public that in consonance with the timetable released for the conduct of the Montserrado County Representative and Senatorial By-Elections and contingent upon prevailing circumstances, the calendar could be subject to adjustments.
He said with the provision of funds by the Government of Liberia and the assurance of the vendor to deliver the pre-packed elections materials in the country before June 30, 2019, the Board of Commissioners (BOC) of the National Elections Commission wishes to inform all political parties, candidates, registered voters and the public in general, that the Montserrado County Senatorial and District #15 Representatives By-Elections will be conducted on Monday, July 8, 2019.
Cllr. Korkoya indicated that the commission wishes to announce that the constitutionally mandated timeframe of 90 days remains on course. However, there will be some technical adjustments within the timeline to account for developments beyond NEC’s control.
He noted that one of such developments is the availability of the pre-packed materials which is a key component for the conduct of the by-elections on a timely provision of materials and the recruitment of poll workers. “The NEC herewith informs the general public that the process of Recruitment and Screening of more than 10,000 temporary elections staff, assessment of 488 precincts and over 1,000 polling stations has begun. The NEC is also pleased to announce that the process of conducting Civic and Voter Education and Gender awareness campaign for the elections is ongoing that must be used by poll workers for the successful conduct of elections.”
The NEC Boss expressed his pleasure to note that the selected vendor has committed to the Government and the NEC to deliver the pre-packed materials on or before June 30, 2019.
Cllr. Korkoya also reiterated that NEC has also secured the commitment of the vendor for the printing of the ballot papers to have the ballots delivered within the same deadline. “In view of the resolution, these critical issues have been resolved by NEC to move forward expeditiously towards successfully conducting these elections,” informing the public that accreditation of party agents, local and international observers and the media is ongoing and climaxes on 25 June 2019.
The NEC boss said the 90 days’ timeframe is constitutionally mandated within which by-elections must be conducted to fill vacancies created in both Houses of the National Legislature.
According to him, the commission has not received any formal complaints of campaign violence or acts of vandalism; but urged all candidates and their supporters to refrain from any act of violence during the period of campaign.
Cllr. Korkoya maintained that all political parties and their supporters are to conform within the limits of the constitution, the electoral laws, regulations and guidelines with decency to ensure that the political campaign period ends peacefully on 7, July 2019.
“NEC hereby informed all political parties, independent candidates and their supporters that the commission will not hesitate to take action in keeping with the election laws of Liberia, elections guidelines and regulations to take punitive measures against any of the political parties, independent candidates or any of their supporters engaging in acts of violence during the specified period of political campaign activities.