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 NEC, Political Parties Review Campaign Finance Regulations June 8th, 2011

 -As IPCC Meeting gain Stem

The National Elections Commission (NEC) and registered political parties have review a draft campaign finance regulation at the last session of the regular monthly Inter-Party Consultative Committee (IPCC) meeting held on June 3, 2011 at the Quelu Farms and Resort in Cresyburb City outside Monrovia.

The revision of the campaign finance regulation by attendants of the meeting follows a presentation on the topic: “Review of Campaign Finance Regulation” by NEC Junior Legal Counsel, Atty. Henry Nagbe Jr.
In his presentation, Atty. Nagbe, among other things, said, “all candidates will submit information on assets, liabilities and income together with their nomination submission” adding, “Presidential candidates will also submit information  on a campaign bank account and campaign treasurer.”
The NEC Junior Legal Counsel further explained that after the elections, candidates and political parties will have to submit information of their income and spending during the election campaign. He emphasized that information on assets and liabilities of parties and independent candidates will be appraised by the Commission at the end of the campaign.
The ban on contribution from foreign sources, Atty. Nagbe said, “remains and the Commission may request candidates and parties to provide attestation that the funds do not come from an illegal source, such as foreign citizens or judicial persons”.
The presentation by Atty. Nagbe was follow by an intense and involving discussion with political parties making substantive in-puts which will be considered by the review and drafting committee of the campaign finance regulation.
Lewis Brown of the National Democratic Coalition (NDC) said, the word the commission ‘may’ should be changed to read, the Commission ‘shall’, this, according to him, makes it more assertive and establishes power of enforceability of the regulation.”
Questions arising from the discussion mainly center on how the NEC will be able to track parties and candidate who will flout the campaign finance regulation for the referendum and the Presidential and Legislative elections.
Providing explanation, Atty. Nagbe opined that it is cleared that parties are to be audited September of each year and it is during this time that the commission thoroughly scrutinizes parties income, assets and expenditure to ascertain as to whether there were any violation or not.
Other Presentations at the IPCC
In a related development, the NEC also gave an update on the impending referendum the accreditation of political parties and candidates’ agent as well as the discovery of under-aged voters and instances of double or multiple registrations on the provisional registration roll.
Of all the presentations, it was the briefing on de-duplication of the registration roll and under-aged registrants that ignited an intense discussion.
NEC Data Software Developer, David Collie, drilled political parties and partners through photograph of under-aged registrants and people who registered tice or more.
Collie said, with the help of customized facial recognition software, the Commission was able to identify about 20,000 cases of double registration. He inform the forum that the software was designed such that it is able to match photograph taking at one end of the country with others and make a determination, with less error, as to whether a particular voters had registered twice or more times.
The presentation of Collie generated a healthy discussion amongst participants at the meeting with some suggesting that the list of under-aged and double registrants be published and those guilty be prosecuted in keeping with electoral laws.
Later, Jappa Nah, Desk Officer of the Referendum Steering Committee, explained the four propositions that will be tested in the ensuing referendum. Some parties’ representatives were of the view that the referendum was not appropriate to be conducted now, Nah argued that the NEC was only performing its mandate of conducting elections once the Legislature has acted and the Joint Resolution 001/ 2011 printed into Hand Bill and published in an official gazette.  
The final presentation bordering on the topic, “Accreditation of Political Party and Candidate Agents” was made by Atty. Nathan Garbie, Deputy Executive Director for External Relations.
Mr. Garbie reminded participants that in keeping with the key electoral dates, the time for the accreditation of party agents to watch the poll is July 9 to August 15, 2011.

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