Home Governance Data Center Under Spotlight …As Opposition Community Complains NEC To ECOWAS, UN, AU, Others

Data Center Under Spotlight …As Opposition Community Complains NEC To ECOWAS, UN, AU, Others

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By E. Geedahgar Garsuah

MONROVIA: With just 73 days to the conduct of the much-awaited and crucial 10, October, 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections, opposition political parties have formally requested technical and security assistances from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other international partners.
The Parties said such assistance is aimed at effectively coordinating the activities of the National Elections Commission (NEC’s) Data Center.


In a communication dated July 21, 2023 addressed to ECOWAS Commission President, Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, which was carbon copied to several other international stakeholders including the United States Mission, African Union, European Mission, and the United Kingdom among others, the opposition Political Parties expressed credibility doubts over the election outcome if NEC is left to singlehandedly supervise the polls with such questionable data center.

“We, the below listed opposition political parties present to your Excellency heartfelt felicitations and esteemed compliments and wish to request ECOWAS Commission’s urgent assistance to ensure the conduct of free, fair, credible and transparent elections in Liberia come 10th October 2023. The focus of our request to your Commission is the need for International Information Technical staff assistance in helping to facilitate the operation and supervision of the Data Center at the National Elections Commission during the conduct of the pending elections and to provide security assistance for the electoral environment,” the communication stated.
The Political Parties as captured in the communication also sought the ECOWAS Commission and international stakeholders’ intervention to compel the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), led government to fully comply with Article 3 of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.

The protocol which was adopted on December 21, 2011 states that: “The bodies responsible for organizing the election shall be independent or neutral and shall have the confidence of all the political actors. Where necessary, appropriate national consultations shall be organized to determine the nature and structure of the bodies.”
According to the communication from the opposition Parties in Liberia, incumbent President George Manneh Weah, ignored the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance by singlehandedly appointing NEC Commissioners without the involvement of political parties and other stakeholders.

“There is ample evidence to confirm that during the Administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in apparent cognizance of the above mentioned provision of the ECOWAS Protocol, nomination of persons by opposition political parties to the electoral body were made via consultations and some of such individuals still serve on the NEC Board of Commission to this date; In the case of the Weah’s Administration, the President unilaterally appointed the entire Board of Commissioners without any regard to opposition political parties, nor opposition member of the Liberian Legislature,” the communication indicated.
The ECOWAS Commission was also asked by the Political Parties to ensure that International Information Technical staffs and Political Parties’ representatives be present at the NEC Data Center and be provided access to the data processing procedures.

For the results of the elections which may be announced by NEC to be tallied and duly certified by electoral districts, as well as disaggregated elections results be signed by NEC Magistrates and attested to by Political Parties’ representatives in keeping with NEC election regulations made it to the list of requests from the political parties to ECOWAS.
At least Liberia’s leading six Political Parties and two Coalitions that made the requests to ECOWAS are Collaborating Political Parties(CPP), Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction, Unity Party (UP), Liberian People’s Party (LPP), National Patriotic Party (NPP), Movement for One Liberia, (MOL), African Liberation League (ALL), and the National Democratic Coalition (NDC).
The condition for these request, the Opposition stated, stemmed from fear that similar fraud which they alleged characterized the 2017 Presidential and Legislative elections might be repeated if professional and credible data analysts are not involved with the NEC’s current electoral process.

Accordingly, the Political Parties and Coalitions averred that unlike the 2005 and 2011 elections that were however graded free, fair and transparent due to the involvement of the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division and an International Information Technology Expert from Pakistan who was hired by United States Agency for International Development in operating NEC Data Center, the results of 2017 elections were a subject of fraud.

The communication added; ‘Unlike the results of those elections, which were certified as being free, fair, credible and transparent, the results of the 2017 elections were questionable because they lacked credibility as they were without wherewithal to attend the two previous Presidential and Legislative elections. Even the Supreme Court of Liberia in its ruling in the case “Charles Brumskine and others Vs. NEC” opined that there was indeed fraud but that such fraud did not rise to a level that would materially affect the outcome of those elections.”
The Opposition (Political Parties and Coalitions) noted that the catalyst for the fraudulent 2017 elections was the calculated replacement of NEC then Director for Data Center, Mr. Josiah Joekai, with Mr. Floyd Oxley Sayor, who is currently a Commissioner on the NEC Board.
“Moreover, the leadership of the NEC in 2017, prior to the conduct of the elections, intimidated the then Liberian Director of the Data Center, an individual of competence and integrity to resign. He was replaced by an individual with limited competence and credibility as Director. That new Director of the Data Center, who is now a Commissioner at the NEC, with the acquiescence of the then Chairman of the Commission, unilaterally presided over the recruitment of the Data Entry Clerks. Consequently, there are abundant pieces of evidence that the list from which the Data Entry Clerks were recruited in 2017 was submitted by the now ruling Congress for Democratic Change,” the communication pointed out.
In addition to these alleged technical lapses, the opposition Community accused NEC Board of Commissioners of being partisan members of the ruling CDC government.

The Opposition made known its conviction that the repeat of 2017 will characterize the pending October Elections, if the International Community and ECOWAS fail to play a supervisory role over the process.

“We are convinced, therefore, that if the international Community led by ECOWAS does not take over the supervision and operation of the Data Center, there will be a repeat of the fraud that characterized the conduct of the 2017 Presidential and Legislative elections. Due to the partisan nature of the National Elections Commission, there have been many calls by Liberian Electoral Management Professionals such as the Center for Development and Election Management for international supervision of the NEC to ensure the protection of the collective interests of all stakeholder in a free and fair contestation for political power,” the communication said.
Also, aimed at ensuring the Tuesday, October 10, 2023 elections are conducted in a peaceful and non-violent atmosphere, the opposition community has requested the International Community including ECOWAS Peace and Security Committee and the United Nations Security Council to provide additional security personnel to work along with their Liberian counterparts to enhance and improve the security environment from August 2023 to March 2024.
“To conclude, we want to reiterate that the fratricidal civil conflict that commenced on 24 December 1989 claimed the lives of more than two hundred thousand Liberians, not to mention UNMIL, and those of ordinary citizens in the Mano River Union. It was a conflict deeply rooted in the rigged Presidential and Legislative elections of October 1985. Those elections were conducted in the most unpatriotic and selfish manner with no regard for the collective good of Liberia,” the opposition Community indicated to ECOWAS and other international stakeholders.

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