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 Chairman Korkoyan Clarified Issues of Printing Ballot Papers August 16th, 2017

Chairman Korkoyan clarified issues of printing ballot papers and other important election matters during the NEC weekly press conference tagged as “Elections Update” Below is the chairman’s full speech.

 

PRESS BRIEFING NOTES

Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoya

Chairman, National Elections Commission

  1. Welcome to the second edition of our weekly press conference, Elections Update” in preparations for the 10 October 2017 general elections. As the preparations continue, the National Elections Commission (NEC) looks forward to continuing these updates and openly encourages participation of the media and journalists.
  1. Today the commission will to highlight and respond to arising issues including:
  1. Comments reported in the media on the printing of ballot papers;
  2. Campaign issues arising;
  3. Replacement of lost and damaged voter cards;
  4. Election observers;
  5. Senator Sando Johnson’s attacks on the commission and its chairman;
  6. Outstanding candidate registration issues.

Clarification on ballot printing suppliers

  1. At our first weekly press conference last week, the NEC committed to disclose details of the vendor that has won the bid to print the ballot papers for the 2017 elections pending the approval of “No Objection” pursuant to the Public Procurement and Concession Act (PPCA). We are pleased to inform you that the PPCC has accepted the “No Objection” to the bid winner. The commission is grateful to the PPCC for this timely endorsement of our competitive bidding process.
  1. The winner of the bid to print the ballot papers is therefore CETIS, a renowned Slovenian company. This will be the commission’s third time working with CETIS. Previously it printed the two ballot papers for the NEC in the by- elections in Lofa.
  1. The NEC is aware of claims in the media by the Youth League of the Coalition for Democratic Change, CDC, regarding the procurement of the ballot papers. The commission reminds all political parties to be responsible in making claims in the public domain.
  1. The NEC respects the rights of all candidates and political parties’ freedom of speech and assembly. The commission however, reminds political parties they have a responsibility to ensure what they say is accurate and not misleading, inflammatory or encouraging distrust in the election commission’s work without grounds. The Ganta Agreement and Farmington River Declaration signed by political parties commit all parties to act responsibly. NEC encourages all parties to remain true to the principles outlined in these documents.
  1. The Procurement of ballot papers was undertaken with a high level of checks and balances. The company selected, CETIS, has an international reputation for producing ballot papers. It was selected based on a competitive process following government guidelines and based on international standards and also in compliance with the PPCA.
  1. The commission would like to set the record straight on claims that NEC had dealings with an individual named Ernest Boakai the bidding process are untrue. The only dealings the commission has had with this person is during the opening of tender documents for supplies in the 2015 Lofa county by-election. The CETIS representative that attended the tender bid opening for the 2017 election materials is named Melvin Bruce.
  1. NEC reassures the public and voters, ballot papers will be of the highest quality, and there will be no opportunity for any entity to interfere with their integrity. NEC also assures the public that it takes these elections seriously against media reports on the contrary. NEC remains an independent body and will not take kindly any interferences from other legal bodies. NEC emphasis that all its procurement processes were fully in line with the laws and open and transparent. These are important issues and sensitive procurement processes conducted in line with international standards that should not be questioned in terms of integrity. NEC may disagree but will not break the laws in anyway.

Campaign issues

  1. NEC recognises the efforts of political parties in ensuring the campaign period has started without major incident. It notes some damages to campaign posters and calls on all political parties and their supporters to respect the law and refrain from these actions. The election law and code of conduct set out clearly that parties and candidates have an equal right to campaign and display their campaign materials. It is important that this is respected.
  1. As chairman of this intuition, I have received threats, including SMS, from a member of the Liberian senate, Sando Johnson of Bomi County. I would like to stress these threats are unacceptable. The commission sees this an interference in independence of the commission’s mandates as provided for by law. This will not be tolerated in the election campaign. The NEC will make a formal complaint to the Senate directly.
  1. On this note, the NEC points out that political parties are required to submit their plans for the campaign to ensure campaign events and rallies do not coincide with one another and to protect public order. It calls on political parties to do so immediately. If parties do not submit these plans in a timely fashion they will be campaigning unlawfully. All actors need to work together with the police to provide a safe and secured campaign environment.
  1. With the assistance of our international partners IFES, treasurers of political parties recently received training on campaign financing in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County. The NEC encourages parties to be transparent in their funding and spending on the campaign. Legal financial spending ceilings are in place. NEC reminds parties this is USD2 million for presidential candidates, vice presidential candidates USD1 million and House of Representative candidates USD400,000.

Replacement of lost or damaged voter cards

  1. The period for the replacement of lost or damaged voter cards ended on the 12 August 2017. The NEC is still collecting final data on total numbers, but as of this morning 14,970 cards were issued as replacements. This is approximately 0.7% of the voters registered. NEC reminds voters who have had a new card issued to return their old cards if found as it cannot be used for voting. Holding two cards could lead to criminal proceedings. Security measures in place will prohibit voting with the original card.

Election observers

  1. The NEC would like to remind national and international election observers to apply for accreditation as soon as possible. Registration opened on 5 August 2017 and will last until 5 October 2017. The NEC supports transparent elections. And it supports election observers. Please supply all details of observers, and submit the relevant documentation to the NEC and it shall process accreditation. The status of election observers should be clear to voters, political parties and NEC staff. And registration will improve this visibility.

New SMS service for voters

  1. In respect to voters, NEC announces it is finalizing an SMS text based system where voters will be able to automatically access details of their polling places where they should vote. NEC is concluding arrangements and will announce details shortly.

Outstanding candidate registration issues

  1. Hearings, complaints and appeals are on-going. The deadline has passed for complaints and NEC stresses it will not take complaints submitted after the deadline. A full update will be delivered shortly.
  1. The commission however, announces that it has endorsed the disqualification of Amos Siebo by the NEC nomination committee. As the public will recall, this individual was arrested during the voter registration period and faces charges related to allegations of election fraud. The commission is of the opinion that disqualification was the correct course of action after this earlier attempt to undermine the integrity of the elections. This should be a clear message to candidates that the law should be followed at all times and violators will be pursued according to the legal framework.

Closing

  1. The NEC wishes to close this press conference by thanking the Government of Liberia for ensuring timely disbursements of funds of USD 8.5 million. It is also grateful to international partners for their continued support including the UNDP, IFES and their funders from the European Union, Sweden, Ireland, Canada and the USA.
  1. We encourage political parties to continue to campaign in a peaceful environment. Voters should also take the opportunity to participate in these public discussions and make an informed choice at the ballot box on October 10, 2017.

 

Thank you for coming.



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