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 A STATEMENT ON THE VOTERS REGISTRATION PROCESS

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bellah

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PostSubject: A STATEMENT ON THE VOTERS REGISTRATION PROCESS   Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:10 am

A STATEMENT ON THE VOTERS REGISTRATION PROCESS: ISSUED BY
THE COALITION OF LIBERIAN PROFESSIONALS FOR GRASSROOTS DEMOCRACY:

ATLANTA, GA 02/16/2011: The people of Liberiaexpressed their commitment to peaceful, democratic change in 2005 after more
than a century of one-party rule, military and autocratic tyranny, and a
protracted civil war that brought untold suffering to the Liberian
populace. After almost a quarter of acentury of civil war, when the socio-economic and political fabric of the
country was shattered, millions of dollars of properties destroyed, an
estimated quarter million of the populace decimated, thrusting national
development 50 years backwards, Liberia finally emerged from its ugly past,
supported by international goodwill, to hold its first historic elections.





In 2005, Liberians, proving to themselves and to the world
that they were ready to take their seat among the comity of nations of the
civilized world, participated in an electoral process, despite all of its
inadequacies, to make history for Liberia
and Africa.
This was a historic first for Liberia when it elected its first
female president in almost a century and the half of its existence as a
Republic. This was also a first for the
continent of Africa, when for the very first time in all of Africa,
a female President was elected to the office of the Presidency in a continent
that has been mostly dominated by male leaders since its colonial and
postcolonial history.





Despite numerous reported irregularities, by most acceptable
international standards, the elections of 2005 were considered free and fair.
And in the spirit of peace and tranquility, the elections were accepted by all
stakeholders and the Liberian people.
But after almost 5 years since the ushering in of a new,
constitutionally-elected government, the strength of our democracy continues to
remain fragile. Sure enough, all of the gains made thus far could be undermined
by the continuing institutional weaknesses and the glaring lack of will by the
political leadership to address and confront the very problems that persisted
in the last election cycle. The failure
by the national leaders to address these problems and their total disregard to
accept meaningful suggestions, are causing serious concern about future peace
and tranquility as we approach the 2011 elections cycle.





As the country prepares to hold its second and most
significant elections in October 2011, the key question being asked and the
challenge it faces, is whether it is ready to conduct a free, fair,
transparent, and credible elections.
Whereas in 2005, the elections were internationally-supervised and
managed by the UN, ECOWAS, EU, AU, among others, supported by an avalanche of
goodwill from ordinary people from all parts of the world who espoused the
universal right of mankind to exercise their freedom of choice, this 2011
elections will be fully-owned by the Liberian people, with the international
community playing only a supportive role this time around.





The National Elections Commission (NEC), is the body charged
with the responsibility of managing this process, by putting in place all of the
procedures necessary to conduct a successful electoral outcome. With the elections only 8 months away,
Liberians and the international community are very much concerned as to whether
the NEC is institutionally and politically equipped to perform its
responsibilities. Can the country
achieve a successful electoral process- one that will be largely owned and
managed by its own people? Is Liberia ready to join the company of other countries
like Sierra Leone, Ghana, Senegal,
and South Africa,
all of whom have had successful elections?
Or will Liberia go
down the path of its next door neighbor, the Ivory Coast.


Like other democratic voices, The Coalition of Liberian
Professionals For Grassroots Democracy (COL), strongly believes that election
matters and, having a successful elections in 2011 matters most as this will
solidify the foundation for strengthening the Liberian democratic process. The COL believes that one sure way of guaranteeing
electoral success is by strengthening the Voters Registration Process, ensuring
that all those who are eligible to vote, including the youth who would turn 18
years old this June, be encouraged to register and participate in this
process. COL believes that all votes must count! A good measure of success would be determined
by the increase in the percentage of the Voters Participation Rate, up from the
threshold reported in 2005.





Judging from what is unfolding thus far from the ongoing
Voters Registration Process, which was extended by another week after numerous
outcries from the Liberian populace and the international community; this does
not appear to look right for the 2011 elections. COL
believes that from its beginning, the ongoing registration process has been
fraught with serious problems which are not being properly addressed by the
NEC. First and foremost, the NEC, either
by an act of commission or omission, has demonstrated a glaring disregard and
violation of the Liberian Constitution in the early stages of the electoral
process. These violations began with the passage of the controversial Threshold
Bill. This bill which was passed into
law under darkness, and away from the bright eyes of the Liberian people, has
been viewed by many keen observers, including national and international legal
scholars, to be inconsistent with the Liberian Constitution.





Today, majority of Liberians are not aware of what this bill
contains and how it affects their Right to Vote! This bill has been signed into law by the
President of Liberia, and is currently being implemented by the NEC. Some
Liberians have challenged the illegal and unconstitutional basis of this bill,
but their pleas and lawsuits have been ignored by the nation’s highest court,
The Supreme Court. By its failure to adhere to the constitution of the
Republic, the NEC has created an environment of distrust and confusion related
to the ongoing electoral process.





Second, doubts have not only been cast on the
constitutionality of the process, but more and more questions have been raised
about the potential political disenfranchisement of thousands of Liberians from
the process. In its initial reporting of the results of the voters’
registration process, the NEC Chairman, Mr. James Fromayan, acknowledged that
it failed to achieve its projected estimate of 2.1 million voters. The NEC further confirmed that only 38% of
the estimated 2.1million voters have registered. What does this mean for our
democracy? And should we accept this low
voters participation during this first phase of the electoral process? Should Liberians be satisfied with less than
50% participation come October 2011?





The COL believes that what has contributed to the further
erosion of the process, is the NEC’s registration of voters without the
reapportionment of Electoral Constituencies as enshrined in Article 80© and e
of the Liberian Constitution. Article
80© gives “every Liberian citizen the right to be registered in a constituency,
and to vote in public elections on only in the constituency where registered
either in person or by absentee ballot; provided that such citizen shall have
the right to his voting constituency as may be prescribed by the legislature.” Also, Article 80(e) of the constitution,
requires the NEC to “immediately following a National Census and before the
next elections, reapportion the constituencies in accordance with the new
population figures so that every constituency shall have as close to the same
population as possible…” The Population
Census was conducted since March 2008; and it is now more than two years
counting, and the NEC has failed in its responsibility of conducting the
reapportionment of legislative constituencies to reflect the new population
distribution. By arrogating unto itself extra-constitutional powers, outside
its governing responsibilities, and pursuing an illegal course, the NEC has
made itself a problem in an electoral process that has all the trappings of a
flawed process.


The NEC has run amok by not reapportioning legislative
constituencies before carrying out voters’ registration!





The Coalition of Liberian Professionals For Grassroots Democracy
also calls attention to the fact that this illegal course of action of the NEC
not only disenfranchises the Liberian voter, but would also lead to the
potential disqualification of Candidates in the event they are relocated in
legislative constituencies that they have not domiciled in for one year prior
to the date of the 2011 elections. For example,
Article 30(b) of the Liberian Constitution requires candidates of the House of
Representatives to “be domiciled in the constituency to be represented not less
than a year prior to the time of the election…”





The COL
believes that while the NEC bears greater responsibility for ensuring that all
Liberians eligible to vote fully participates in this process, responsibility
also rests with each and every Liberian voter, political parties, and the
larger civic society. With continuing
disturbing reports about individuals, politicians, and political parties,
aiding and abetting in an already flawed process, Liberians and those with
vested interest in Liberia,
more than ever before, have to be vigilant, to ensure a corruption-free
process.





The COL
cannot overstate the importance of the October elections, and how that is
hinged to the health of our infant democracy.
The COL believes that this is a one- time opportunity Liberians have to
make sure what has gone wrong with our Electoral Process in the past, is made
Right. COL firmly believes that the following steps
must be taken right away to help strengthen the electoral process before the
October elections and for the Future of our democracy:





  • That
    the National Elections Commission be Re-constituted immediately into a
    nonpartisan institution to include representatives from all walks of life
    of the Liberian society. The numerous calls to have the Commission
    reconstituted should be heeded to restore Trust and Confidence in this
    electoral body;
  • The
    Commission should immediately publish the 2005 Voters List and the Current
    Voters List based on results it has received from the Voters Registration
    Process;
  • Adhering
    to requirements as stipulated in the Liberian constitution, Legislative
    Constituencies must be demarcated, to be followed by a New Voters Registration
    Process;
  • Liberia’s
    international Partners and Stakeholders should manage this process side by
    side with the newly-reconstituted Elections Commission; and
  • Finally,
    The Liberian Supreme Court, must now live up to its constitutional
    responsibility by addressing grievances that have been filed or will be
    filed with this court as the process proceeds.









The Coalition of Liberian Professionals for Grassroots
Democracy believes that every Liberian has a vested interest in the health and
viability of our democracy, and the direction of long-term growth and
development of our country we all claim as home. The COL
is convinced that this nation is poised for greatness, but to achieve this, we
all must pledge allegiance to uphold the Republic for which it stands by doing
what we know is Right! Now is the time
to fix what is wrong before it is too late!








Signed:





James Kpanneh Doe


Acting Executive Director


Coalition of Liberian Professionals for Grassroots Democracy





Edwin N. Dennis


Director, Legal & Constitutional Affairs











ISSUED FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2011
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bellah

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PostSubject: Re: A STATEMENT ON THE VOTERS REGISTRATION PROCESS   Wed Feb 23, 2011 5:53 am

It is our hope that the electoral process will be free and fair. We will have to make this happen,
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