LIBERIA: THE SENATE CITES NEC OVER ELECTORAL VIOLENCE

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With just 43 more days to the conduct of the much-publicized and contentious 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections, the Liberian Senate isn’t satisfied with the current state of affairs, particularly the manner and form things are being conducted as well as other irregularities.

Despite the signing of the Farmington River Declaration for a more civil and peaceful electoral process, as well as calls by civil society groupings and their umbrella organization – the National Civil Society of Liberia (NCSCL) and other rights based groups, the terrain for political campaign has been tense in terms of violent conduct of campaign activities by political parties.

Since the launch of the campaign on August 5, hate speeches and violations of the laws including the very Farmington Declaration has been the order of the day, and as such, thus creating in insecurity and undermining the free and fairness of the main process.

The violent activities, as followed up by this paper, are mostly orchestrated by the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and former ruling Unity Party (UP), and this has somewhat created serious havoc among the voting populace.

It could be recalled that on the opening day of the campaign, the CDC totted casket around Monrovia. Another time, there was a stone throwing battle between the CDC and the UP with several persons sustaining injuries in the process.

In addition to the violence, the Commission is in legal battle after controversially qualifying a candidate due to her questionable age. The questionable age of Bintu Mansary was brought to light by one Hussein Seimavula, who filed a complaint of objection to the nomination of the candidate of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change or (CDC).

Seimavula, Chairman of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) in the county, reported that Madam Mansary, a daughter of businessman Idrissa Mansaray, who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Hard Works Mining Company located in
Mano River Congo, Grand Cape Mount County, has not reached the required age for participating in these elections as a candidate.

Madam Bintu Mansary, candidate of the CDC, according to document in the possession of the Independent Authoritative Heritage Newspaper, is constitutionally two short years short of contesting the Representative race as she is just 23 years old.

Also, document of Aspirant Mansary filed before the National Elections
Commission (NEC), a copy which is obtained by this paper from officialdom states that she was born February 24, 2000, meaning she is just 23 years old and two years below what is expressed in Article 30(a) of the Liberian Constitution organic law of the country.

Article 30(a) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia states that: “Citizens of Liberia who meet the following qualifications are eligible to become members of the Legislature. a: for the Senate, have attained the age of 30 years and for the House of Representatives, have attained the age of 25 years.”

Accordingly, predicated on the complaint filed by the CPP Grand Cape Mount
Chairman and concerned citizens, the Hearing Office at the country’s electoral body – NEC adjudged a guilty verdict against her candidacy, but she then forwarded an appeal before the Board of Commissioners in line with the legal steps for hearing complaints of electoral matters. But despite all available documentary evidence, the candidate was qualified by the NEC BOC, thus leaving complainant Seimavula with no option, but to forward the matter to the Supreme Court of Liberia.

Accordingly, amid all these rigmarole, the Liberian Senate on Friday, August 25, crafted a communication inviting the Chairperson of the Commission, Madam Davidetta Browne Lansanah and members of the Board of Commissioners of the National Election Commission (NEC) to appear before the Committee of the whole on tomorrow, Tuesday, August 29, 2023 at 12 noon.

According to a Senate release from its Press and Public Affairs Section, the decision of the Liberian Senate was based on several concerns raised by members of the Senate as it relate to the preparedness of the Commission (NEC) coupled with matters of security.

The Senate pointed out that it is greatly concerned about strategies put into place for the conduct of the Presidential and Legislative Elections slated for October 10, 2023.

Among other things, the citation will also afford the opportunity to NEC to give update on preparations for the holding of free, non-violent and transparent elections.

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