By Bill W. Cooper
The National Elections Commission (NEC) has qualified six candidates including the Unity Party (UP) disputed candidate to participate in the upcoming Lofa County Senatorial By-election.
The NEC, through its Chairperson, Davidetta Browne-Lansanah said the Commission’s decision is in obedience to the Supreme Court’s June 3, 2022 ruling which declared Section 8.5 of the CPP’s framework agreement unconstitutional.
“I am pleased to announce that the NEC has enforced the mandate of the Court, and the referenced candidate has been qualified, in addition to the five other candidates, making it a total of six candidates that are qualified to participate in the 2022 Lofa County Senatorial By-election,” she intoned.
However, those qualified by the NEC are Momo T. Cyrus, Independent; Mariamu B. Fofana, Ind.; Joseph K. Jallah, Ind.; Galakpai Kortimai, Unity Party (UP); Sumo G. Kupee, People’s Unification Party (PUP), and George B. Samah, Ind.
Addressing a news conference yesterday at NEC headquarters in Monrovia, the NEC boss at the same time disclosed the arrival of 254,100 ballot papers via the Roberts International Airport, on Monday, June 13, 2022, for the Lofa County By-election, and is now being stored in the NEC Central Warehouse under tight security, pending deployment to Lofa.
She added that the Commission also brought in 477 Tactile Ballot Guides to assist visually impaired persons during the voting exercise, while at the same time pointed out that close to 2,000 temporary election workers have been recruited for the by-election, and training commenced yesterday, June 14, 2022.
Additionally, the NEC chairperson asserted that five community-based organizations are now participating in the NEC Civic and Voter Education (CVE) Cells, and emphasized, “They have been hired to educate and inform the citizens of Lofa about the Senatorial By-election.”
Madam Browne-Lansanah has however divulged that the Commission is still awaiting a joint resolution from the National Legislature on a new date for the Lofa County by-election after informing them (National Legislature) about the non-feasibility of the May 10 date for the conduct of the Senatorial By-election due to the ruling of the Supreme Court.
She at the same time assured the Liberian people that the Commission remains committed to performing its mandate under the law as NEC prepares to conduct the Lofa County Senatorial By-election whenever it is rescheduled.
Meanwhile, ahead of the 2023 General Elections, the NEC Chairperson has also put the total amount needed for the successful conduct of the elections at US$61 million across Liberia.
She said the NEC’s working with government, adjusted the 2023 comprehensive Elections Budget to US$61 million of which US$ 20 million was approved in the 2022 January – December Fiscal Year budget.
“The NEC has also requested the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning for the US$20 Million in time for the NEC to release the tentative schedule for voter registration,” the NEC boss noted.
Madam Browne-Lansanah indicated that in preparation for the voter registration, the Commission has gathered and reviewed all of the regulations that will guide the voter registration process.
According to her, the BoC and senior technical staff had been involved in said activity for the past few weeks, disclosing further that the NEC has submitted the Procurement Plan for the voter registration to the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) for approval.
She said, “As you may be aware, the NEC has previously informed you that it was making a transition from the Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) system of voter registration to Biometric technology for Voter Registration.”
This, she further stated that the Board of Commissioners has reaffirmed its earlier decision to use Biometric technology for Voter Registration for the 2022/2023 voter registration exercise.