The Chairman of the National Elections Commission James M. Fromayan said constant engagement with stakeholders is key to preventing post-election violence. Mr. Fromayan said this during his tour of the Southeast when he met with staff and students of Tubman University in Harper, Maryland County.
He said the Commission is quite aware of election-related violence in the region and beyond and would therefore take all necessary steps to guard against such incident during and after the 2011 elections. The NEC Chairman observed that post-election tensions are often instigated by political leaders and assured the people that it will not be possible for such leaders to incite people against the Commission on account of unfair results.
Chairman Fromayan also said that constituency delimitation could not take place before the voters registration exercise because the Legislature failed to set a threshold that would have made it easier for the Commission to clearly define electoral boundaries. He however, clarified that the electoral districts delineation exercise, which is still at the technical level, is not intended to take away peoples’ land, but instead it is only for electoral purposes.
Commenting on the impending national referendum, Mr. Fromayan said that the Referendum is an election, but will involve a “YES” or “NO” vote on issues rather than individuals. According to him, four propositions will be voted for during the referendum which include: an amendment to Article 83 (b) of the constitution, which requires an absolute majority for all electoral posts; An extension of the elections month from October to November; A reduction by five years in the residency clause and the extension of the retirement age of Supreme Court Justices and Judges of subordinate Courts of records.
Chairman Fromayan noted that during the referendum, voters will be required to cast their ballots at the centers they registered. He however said that the number of centers would be increased by over two hundred percent to afford voters the opportunity to freely cast their ballots adding that the commission intends using established student groupings such as drama and social clubs to bolster ongoing civic education efforts for the entire electoral process.
On the issue of transparency, Chairman Fromayan said local and international observers as well as the media are being encouraged to follow every stage of the 2011 referendum and the general elections.
The NEC Chairman said the Commission has no specific interest in a particular candidate as evidenced by the free, fair and transparent conduct of the 2005 elections and the nine by-elections that followed. He recounted that just as the ruling party won some of the by-elections, the opposition also won, asserting that elections are about the future of the country and not about him (Fromayan) or any of the Commissioners. He said while it is true that no democratic process around the world is perfect, the NEC will do its best to ensure transparency rather than concentrating on road side sentiments. The NEC Chairman also recounted that under his administration, a modern headquarters was constructed by the United States Government and that new offices and warehouses are being constructed in the 19 Magisterial areas across the country saying, “these efforts are not only part of the legacy of this bench, but are intended to enhance the democratic process in our country.”
With respect to the country’s stability, Chairman Fromayan added that only Liberians can keep peace amongst themselves adding that “Once there is peace and stability, there would be no need for foreign peace keepers.”
While in the Southeast, Chairman Fromayan held consultations with UNMIL local commands in Maryland and Grand Kru. The NEC Chairman thanked them for continuously supporting the Commission in all of its activities over the years. “NEC is grateful to UNMIL for the contributions it is making. We urge you to continue with such support as we all look forward to meeting our common objective.”
Chairman Fromayan’s visit to the Southeast was part of a routine exercise to conduct assessment of the Commission’s facilities in the counties vis-a-vis the construction of local offices and warehouses ahead of the referendum and the General elections this year.