NEC “Cold War” Intensifies -As Vice Chair Reeves Refuses to Take Seat Beside Chair Lansanah

MONROVIA – The apparent frosty relationship between the Chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Mrs. Davidetta Brown-Lassanah, and her principal Deputy, Cllr. Teplah Reeves, reared its ugly head on Saturday, February 18, 2023 at the National Headquarters of the institution during a brief welcome ceremony of a two-man ECOWAS assessment team in the country. The incident nearly brought Liberia into international disrepute when Vice Chairperson Cllr Reeves deliberately attempted to set the place in confusion by the negative posture exhibited in the full glare of the audience which also included other staff of NEC and members of the media.

Early warning signs of the seeming breach of protocol flashed from the glaring lateness of Madam Reeves arrived when the entire board of commissioners of NEC led by Chair Brown-Lassanah and the ECOWAS Special Representative to Liberia Ambassador Joseph Nkrumah and the two dignitaries of the assessment team, Messrs Francis Okey and Ebenezer Asiedu, were already seated at the program awaiting adjustment with protocol arrangement to commence the program.

In a defiant mood, Cllr Reeves marched towards the high table and decided to greet the guests outside of protocol, stopped right in front of them and spoke to them in a raw Liberian parlance, “Yor Hello oooo. Okay, dis ollor one here nan come here before (apparently referring to Ambassador Nkrumah), but dis ollor men dem (Messrs. Okey and Asiedu), bor yor welcome”, and took her time walking down the high table to take her seat, with her face frowned up.

At that point, one of the commissioners greeted her and  jokingly asked why wasn’t she greeting them as well; to which she stopped and responded, “yor lee me this morning, I don’t know anyone here, ehn dah yor sister there (referring to Madam Brown-Lassanah), yor lee me this morning and I nan want trouble; and if yor wan ley trouble we will starlay it here, yor know me, I don’t joke with people, I nan sitting near yor, I am sitting there”, Cllr Reeves said, as she walked to a seat at the tail end of the high table.

Perhaps knowing her usual antics and the desire not to allow the public to know about the cold war between them, Madam Brown-Lassanah looked the other way, pretending to be passing on instruction for the commencement of the program, while the other female commissioners, Cllr. Ernestine Morgan-Awar and Madam Josephine Kou Gaye, put up a pretense of smiling, acting as if they had not heard what Cllr. Reeves had just said.

Our reporter who keenly followed the entrance of Cllr. Reeves and the manner in which she broke protocol to speak to the august guests, also found out that she refused to take her usual seat next to Chair Brown-Lassanah, an established protocol whenever the Board of Commissioners is scheduled to either meet with members of the national legislature or the press.

Besides, our reporter noticed that Cllr. Reeves usual role to give vote of thanks at most of NEC events was not performed by her but by fellow commissioner, Floyd Oxley Sayor, who was asked to give the vote of thanks before the closing prayer.

Checks by The Analyst with some insiders at the NEC confirmed that there has been a long-standing issue between the two top NEC officials arising mainly from the transaction involving the selection of the preferred bidder of the biometric voters’ registration (BVR) contract which eventually went to LAXTON GROUP, a transaction that did not go down well with Cllr. Reeves because according to insiders at NEC she wanted to play a key role in the selection process.

The two lead commissioners had disagreed with each other during a meeting with the Liberian Senate last year in the wake of the raging cold war between them as the result of the said BVR contract where Madam Brown Lassanah accused Cllr. Teplah Reeves of tampering with the results of the procurement process and leaking sensitive information to the public, allegations that were vehemently denied by Cllr. Reeves.

Pundits who have been following the situation at NEC told The Analyst that urgent intervention is needed at the institution, as the poor working relationship between the two persons may spell doom for the electoral process due to their continuous wrangling which may bring credibility issues to the integrity institution.

“It is too early in the day for both of them, who are the most senior officials there, to start this kind of confusion. It is not healthy for our democracy especially with the two playing such key roles as umpires for this crucial election. It is evident that the two are not on good speaking terms or in a good working relationship.

“A transferred aggression may result in serious disagreement in the decision-making process at a very crucial time and may render the entire process not being credible. I think there needs to be an urgent intervention from our stakeholders to put this brewing crisis to an end”, Paul William Porter, Sr., a public affairs commentator said last night.

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