By Morrison O.G Sayon
All is now set for the conduct of the Special Senatorial Election throughout the country, Liberia’s electoral body, the National Elections Commission (NEC) has disclosed. Thousands of Liberians will tomorrow go to the polls to elect 15 Senators of the first category as the tenure of 15 Senators of the first category expires. 139 candidates are vying for the 15 Senatorial seats at the National Legislature.
Addressing a news conference yesterday in Monrovia, NEC Chairman, Jerome G. Korkoya reaffirmed the Commission’s commitment to the conduct of a free, fair and transparent Special Senatorial Election and encouraged all political parties to play their roles in ensuring the credibility of the election.
Cllr. Korkoya said on Saturday, December 20, 2014, the Liberian people will go to the polls to elect Senators to fill the seats that will be vacated by current Senators whose tenure will expire at the expiration of nine years.
He went on, “As we undertake this milestone in our journey to consolidate the hard won democracy in our country, let me once again affirm the Commission’s commitment to the conduct of a free, fair and transparent Special Senatorial Election.”
He reminded Liberians political parties and candidates have very crucial roles to play in ensuring fairness of the election. He said the parties and candidates can such roles as sending competent and reasonable agents to all of the polling places across the country and insisting that those agents observe and document the various processes at the polling places.
Chairman Korkoya also urged the parties and candidates to go out and encourage voters to turn out in mass to vote on election day; by calling on their supporters to adhere to the Ebola Prevention Measures prescribed by the Ministry of Health during this electoral process; by conducting a peaceful political campaign void of name calling, use of foul language and disrupting campaign rallies of their rivals and committing to take advantage of the complaint procedures, among others.
On the issue of Ebola prevention, the NEC Chairman said it is no secret that the Senatorial Election is being conducted at a time when the nation has been plagued by the deadly Ebola virus. He added, “We wholeheartedly welcome news that the virus is bending the curve in our country, but we cannot afford to neglect the various preventive measures prescribed by the Ministry of Health and our international partners during this election.”
“To demonstrate that the Commission is not in the least unmindful of the presence of this virus and its deadly consequence especially at a time when citizens will be converging in large numbers, the Commission has promulgated an Ebola Virus Disease Protocol to guide, the conduct of all stakeholders during this election. That protocol has been published on our website and in various newspapers”, Cllr. Korkoya pointed out.
He then called on all political parties, independent candidates and their supporters to take concrete steps at ensuring that the preventive measures are adhered to at all times during their campaign rallies.
On the issue of complaints, Korkoya said since the ruling of the Supreme Court affirming the action of the Legislative and Executive Branches of Government to set a new date ‘for the conduct of the Special Senatorial Election, the Commission has received a number of complaints of campaign irregularities from aspirants as well as private citizens.
“As much as these violations are occurring during the electoral process, some of the complaints we have received bordered on criminality. Those complaints that are admissible before the Commission are being investigated by the Independent Hearing Officer while those with elements of criminality are being referred to the Police,” Korkoya said.
He further assured the public that the NEC is committed to ensuring that the election is conducted within the ambit of the law. He stated that the Commission will not hesitate to apply the law on anyone found violating, no matter who is involved.
Chairman Korkoya reiterated that the Commission is committed to the conduct of a free, fair and credible election and called on all registered voters to turn out at the voting precinct they voted in 2011 or where they replaced or transferred their votes during the voter roll update exercise to vote for the candidate of their choice.