By: Varney Dukuly
MONROVIA: Elections in Liberia are a constitutional process that gives people the right to remove or maintain elected public officials from offices and fill vacancies in line with Article (1) of the 1986 Constitution of the country.
In the lead up to the 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections, Liberians have been raising concerns as it relates to what commentator calls the increasing signs of missteps on the part of the National Elections Commission (NEC) with respect to the implementation of the Commission’s announced timetable.
For example, according to commentators, the National Elections Commission, under the leadership of the Madam Davidetta Browne Lansanah, has been flip-flopping on key electoral dates, a situation which could undermine the nation’s peace and serenity ahead of October 10, 2023 polls.
The NEC, on Monday, December 5, 2022, issued a formal statement, adjusting December 15, 2022, date slated for the start of the Voter Registration Process across the country.
“The National Elections Commission (NEC), informs the public that the previously announced December 15, 2022, date for the start of Voters Registration is being adjusted to a later date,” the statement said.
The statement, at the same time, indicated that NEC is preparing a new timeline, detailing the voter registration schedule, which will be communicated to the public.
The Commission however failed to state a specific date for commencement of the crucial VR Process with about nine months left for the pending presidential elections.
“The National Elections Commission assures the Liberian people that the 2023 electoral process is on course and the Commission remains committed to conduct free, fair and credible elections on October 10, 2023,” the statement added.
Those identical words from NEC, have however affected the official launch of Civic and Voters Education.
Other activities such as the Validation of Administrative Units & Amalgamated areas, listing of boundaries which were set to begin September 8 and end on December 22 are still pending with no visible sign of implementation.
No media institution, for the records, has ever received accreditation for the Voter Registration Process (VR), though the NEC, in her calendar, set from October 5 to December 2, 2022, as a time allotted to grant political parties agents and observers accreditation to monitor the VR process.
With so much confidence, on August 31, the National Elections Commission informed Liberians and foreign residents about its readiness to conduct the much-heralded 2023 Presidential and Legislation elections.
However, “Over a period of one year now, efforts have been made to transition from the OMR registration to the biometric technology for the registration of voters.
“Biometric systems have advantages and we would ensure they are properly utilized for the best interest of all eligible voters and the country in general,” Madam Browne-Lansanah asserted when she released the electoral dates for 2023.
But, weeks later, the zeal that occasioned the issuant of the policy statement from the National Elections Commission has dwindled as implementation of six other different electoral dates hang in the balance with few months left for the October 10, 2023 pools.
The Browne-Lansanah led commission has reportedly failed to meet up with certain crucial dates, including its August 22-September 30 deadline for accreditation to CSO/CBO with focus to monitor VR process.
Also, the publication of Voter Registration and Regulation have not been executed even though the NEC set August 31-October 15, 2022 as the appropriate time.
On the other hand, there are standing issues of concern to Liberians and the International community bordering on constitutional irregularities and other lapses on the part of the Elections Commission.