MONROVIA, Montserrado – In the wake of reported irregularities that characterized the October 10 presidential and representatives election, three political parties say the National Elections Commission cannot conduct any free, fair, and transparent presidential election runoff.
The three parties, Unity Party, Liberty Party, and the All Liberia Party, have said they are collaborating to dispute the elections results with the National Elections Commission.
The October 10 polls did not produce any winner among the 20 contenders because none of them were able to obtain the 50 percent plus one vote, as required by the constitution.
George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change obtained 38.4 percent of the votes, followed by Joseph Boakai, vice president and standard bearer of the Unity Party, with 28.8 percent. The two parties, according to NEC, are due to participate in the runoff election slated for November 7.
Addressing a press conference on Sunday at the Unity Party headquarters in Congo Town, the chairpersons of the three aggrieved political parties, in unequivocal terms, drew the attention of Liberians to several issues of anomalies about the October 10 elections.
According to the parties, these anomalies included widespread and systematic fraud, incompetence, inefficiencies, and deliberate actions and inactions on the part of NEC.
Speaking on behalf of the three parties, Wilmot Paye, chairman of Unity Party, noted that “several thousands of Liberians were prevented from voting in the first round of the elections.”
“Now frustrated and angered, many of those disenfranchised voters have vowed not to vote in any scheduled presidential election runoff,” he said.
Accordingly, the political parties indicated that they are appalled by the mistreatment of those not allowed to exercise their constitutional right.
Paye said his party “reaffirms its solidarity with the Liberty Party and all other political parties and candidates that feel offended and have strong reasons to believe that the October 10 polls were characterized by massive systematic irregularities and fraud.”
Paye said the three political parties cannot ignore the many more startling revelations continuing to emerge about the “fraud” that occurred during the October 10 polls.
The political parties explained that at first, it seemed that these were mere irregularities that could be corrected by simple administrative procedures and practices ahead of a presidential election runoff, but it now appears that “the magnitude of these allegations is alarming.”
While the statement read on behalf of the three parties disputed the results of the first round of the elections, some of the claims made by the parties cited issues that had arisen before Oct. 10.
Paye mentioned that throughout the campaigning period, they had raised alarms about President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s direct interference with the electoral process, drawing attention to a controversial meeting the president had with magistrates before the polls.
“We are aware that long before the October 10 polls, Sirleaf had invited election magistrates to her residence for a meeting, which is unprecedented in election history,” Paye said in his statement.
“Our respective political parties maintain that this act clearly amounted to interference with the electoral process and has no legal basis or justification whatsoever,” he said.
According to the joint statement, Sirleaf’s conduct was an act of intimidation and inducement, since some commissioners of NEC had warned Kokorya against election magistrates meeting with the president.
Those commissioners, according to the three political parties, were correct because there was no precedent for it anywhere and hence that meeting was not necessary at all.
Paye also mentioned a case where a consultant within the Ministry of State was arrested for fraud.
“We are reminded of the voter registration card printing machine and other official materials of the NEC caught in the possession of Amos Siebo, a staff in Sirleaf’s office, and numerous voter registration cards that ended up in the hands of people, who were either not eligible voters or who voted more than once throughout country,” he said.
However, none of the three parties had refused to contest during the first round of elections or filed formal protests before the results started coming out.
Paye further drew attention to ballot boxes which were seen without serial numbers, which he said opened the possibility for fraud.
He directly accused Sirleaf, a member of his party, of interfering in the elections. The views of Liberians were not reflected in the announced results and cannot be taken for granted, Paye said.
“There can be no surer or truer way to solidify our peace than through a genuine democratic process free of interference and manipulation,” he added.
“In addition to our previous reaffirmed position of solidarity, we are united in one accord in pursuing the legal course initiated by the Liberty Party and the All Liberian Party. Together, we will pursue this to a logical conclusion,” Paye noted.
Eight days away from election day, the three parties called on the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union, ECOWAS, and the United States of America “to take keen note of the unfolding events since October 10.”
The statement by Paye against the former standard bearer of his party came on the same day as she was celebrating her 79th birthday.
Featured photo by Zeze Evans Ballah