SEPTEMBER 30, 2005
TALKING POINTS
CLLR. FRANCES JOHNSON-MORRIS
CHAIR OF THE NATIONAL ELECTIONS COMMISSION

           

 

 

r          court cases

 

The written court decision on adding several independent candidates on the ballot papers was delivered to the NEC on September 29, 2005.

 

NEC has been preparing for October 11 elections for many months in the sincere hope that they would bring a fitting conclusion to the Accra Peace Process in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

 

We are now analyzing the operational challenges that we are facing in making changes at this late date.

 

r      Civic and voter education going strong

 

 

The voter education materials received by the NEC Headquarters in the past two weeks have now reached all counties.

 

Examples of activities this week from around the country are; Civic Educators have been disseminating information about the re-issuing of voter ID cards and the polling process. In Grand Cape Mount, UNDP sponsored a sensitization program which attracted women’s associations, clan chiefs, Town Criers and the general public. This event was also aimed at sensitizing stakeholders on the election procedures. A mock voting exercise was organized to throw more light on the voting steps. In Margibi, audio cassettes with jingles and Public Service announcements on voting have been given out to drivers of commercial vehicles. The drivers of these taxis and mini-buses will play the tapes for their riders. Community radio stations in various counties have been supplied with tapes of the elections focused program, “Dis Voting ting” and have been broadcasting these for their local communities. Similar activities are being rolled out across the country on voting and the NEC is working hand in hand with various partners to educate the electorate.   

 

 

r      security preparations underway

 

To ensure that polling is peaceful, Liberian National Police (LNP) and UNMIL CIVPOL plan to jointly deploy 4,852 LNP and security officers coming from various security agencies in support of LNP.

 

 Two Liberian National Police officers will be assigned to each of the 1,421 Voting Precincts on Polling day. The remaining 2,010 security personnel will come from various security agencies and UNMIL CIVPOL. They will be supporting the LNP and undertake routine law enforcement operations in case of any incidents, while UNMIL Military will be providing general area security.

 

The LNP Officers will move to the Polling Places with the electoral materials dispatched for polling. In this way, security will be on site prior to voters coming to cast their votes.

 

 

r          deadline extended for accreditation of representatives

 

              The deadline for the accreditation of Political Party and Independent Candidate representatives has been extended by one week, until October 4. These extra 7 days have been put in place to allow time for those representatives who have not done so, to secure the required accreditation. NEC wants to remind all parties of the role they and their representatives play in the transparency and credibility of the process and wishes to include all those who want to participate.   

 

 

r          nec briefs domestic observers

 

 

The NEC is holding a two-day workshop for domestic observers on September 29 and September 30. In this workshop, observers have been briefed on the importance of election observation and also informed on the regulation on complaints and the relevant procedures. During the workshop, the role and responsibilities of domestic observers were stressed. Polling, counting and tally procedures were elaborated on, and NEC provided a simulation of voting and counting procedures. The Commission is hosting this event in order to equip domestic observers with all the background information they need to be effective observers.

           

 

r          training of magistrates

 

A workshop will be held for all NEC County Magistrates at the NEC tomorrow, Saturday, October 1, starting at 9am.

 

The workshop will cover the complaints and appeals procedures and the resolution of disputes emanating from political party and candidate representatives at the polling places. The Magistrates will also be briefed on the counting and tallying procedures and be given the opportunity to discuss any other legal matters.

 

r          Summary of Questions and Answers

 

Asked to comment on the Supreme Court ruling on adding the names of several independent candidates on the ballots, Cllr. Johnson-Morris said NEC has taken steps to comply with the Court’s ruling. She said NEC has received a letter from the independent candidates’ attorney asking NEC to inform them of specific deficiencies in their applications. NEC is working towards October 11 elections while seeing how it would be able to accommodate these candidates.

 

Concerning whether NEC was embarrassed by the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Chair said the decision was not an embarrassment but that it in fact is a setback to the electoral process. She noted that the CPA is clear that elections are to be held in October and if there had to be a shift in the election date, the NEC did not have the authority to make such a decision; the Commission could only hold consultations with parties to the CPA and the facilitators of the peace process. The Chair said in the context of the peace agreement, NEC is merely an implementer and not a party, therefore any alteration that affects the CPA lies outside the authority of NEC.

 

Answering a question regarding the expiration date of the 7-day period given the rejected candidates to correct deficiencies, the Chair said it was the Supreme Court, not the NEC, which set these days and the Court was clear in its ruling that this period begins as of the date of the ruling (September 28).

 

Responding to a question about what went wrong during the nomination process that has led to the present situation, the Chair explained that these independent candidates were disqualified because they did not meet the criteria set by the Commission within the specified timeframe. She said the process was guided by various procedures and rules which the NEC had applied without bias against any candidates.

 

Asked how and where NEC would print new ballots if the independent candidates satisfied all requirements and their names had to be included on the ballots, the Chair said the Commission had no definite answer at present, as it was still looking into logistical requirements and other considerations. She however noted, that if it came to a point that new ballots had to be printed, this would most likely be done at the same printing site (in Ghana).

 

Asked whether the NEC would comply if the Supreme Court issued an injunction against conduct of elections on October 11, the Chair said she is law-abiding and the NEC believes in the rule of law. She however noted that the Commission finds itself in a dilemma where it is being required by the Court to include additional candidates on the ballots, which might require postponement of elections, while the NEC does not have the authority to single-handedly  change the October 11 election date.   

 

Concerning whether there has been any reaction from political parties to the Supreme Court ruling, the Chair said the NEC held a meeting with political parties during which that issue was discussed, but no unanimous position was adopted by the parties. She said some parties favored inclusion of the affected independent candidates on the ballots while others expressed contrary views.

  

 

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