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Friday, July 19, 2024

AMID A ONE-DAY RETREAT: RECKONING AN ASSERTIVELY ROBUST ELECTIONS COORDINATING COMMITTEE IN 2023!

Date:

A Patriot’s Diary

With Ekena Nyankun Juagbe-Droh Wesley

Liberians go to the polls later this year to decide their political future for the next six years. When they did so in 2017 amid a series of by-elections, they largely carried regrets in their hearts and minds about their poor or rash decisions. Most often than not, voters act on impulses. Make no mistakes, impulses are not informed by rational concentration. They are usually short-term driven. The rice, cash, and empty rhetoric. We have either failed to grow or learn anything substantive in light of a series of elections to empower our leaders.

No doubt when we decide or choose to elect leaders, it is essentially about service to the country and its people. Has that been our experience? Your guess would be as good as the rest of us. In the small West African nation, we have rather come to learn that those elected are particularly about themselves and not the people who elect them.

Campaign seasons produce some of the most ludicrous and mischievous lectures ever. Promises are usually made that politicians sadly cannot keep. When our people cum the electorates make a bad decision at the ballot box, they count the consequences so incredulously. Jobs promised to the electorates seem not to come by; schools and hospitals become underfunded and the prospects to change their lives for the better become far-fetched.

True leaders who unarguably match words with deeds are just hard to come by. Elections are indeed about choices. They become an opportunity for voters to choose their leaders and make wise determinations anchored on some kind of hope for change. They often hope; but the change suddenly becomes illusive, to say the least.

When our 2005 general and presidential elections dawned on us, Liberians and their foreign development partners sort to embrace the trappings of good governance. Elections, by themselves, cannot be seen to be the ultimate in cascading the woes of the masses. They constitute a means to an end.

In an effort to ensure free, fair, and democratic elections from time to time, we evolved through consultation the creation of an independent body dubbed – the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC), a configuration of Civil Society Actors dedicated to reviewing electoral issues and work assertively with state actors to resolve whatever the looming concerns.

The ECC has since 2005 been in the vanguard of pursuing radical electoral reforms in Liberia. Have they made any progress? They can call for change but it takes the political will to implement such reform. In 2017, when the Liberty Party (LP) challenged the outcome of the results following the run-off, some of the key issues raised such as cleaning of the voter’s roll have been at the forefront of the ECC’s advocacy.

Nearly more than five years on, the elections supervisory body, the National Elections Commission (NEC) disappointingly reneged on making amends. NEC has not been able to tell Liberians why it has failed to take any meaningful corrective actions consistent with the Supreme Court’s ruling.

In a few months amid holding everything constant, Liberians would be bracing for crucial elections – particularly with scores of unresolved issues. NEC seems to be in no position to right the dozen wrongs already identified. Are we going to hold the October polls anyway? Elections, especially their conduct have consequences. In 1985, we witnessed how a rigged election landed us a catastrophic national nightmare that hunted us for 14 years. It is as a result of such ugly antecedents that birthed the Elections Coordinating Committee positioned us to right the wrongs.

Amid the uncertainties surrounding the census, versus the loaded elections’ timetable, NEC believes we can go to elections anyway. That is foolhardy! The absence of adequate preparatory work cannot be the cornerstone for any hopeful realization. Bidding for the services of the electronic voting system became a brouhaha. The PPCC and NEC were caught up in a territorial war of statutory responsibility forever.

In the face of all these anomalies, the ECC, a week ago met to access its critical role, as well as to review and take stock of where we are and what needs to be done to ensure Liberians hold free, fair, transparent elections in October as per the somewhat untenable electoral timetable. We want to see a more aggressively engaged ECC in the coming days, weeks, and months if the country is poised to hold general and presidential elections that must either make or break us.

The ECC is the only hope for Liberians in terms of keeping NEC’s feet to the fire. Already we have a National Elections Commission infused with partisan coloration. Its credibility is in tatters! The prospect of truly free and fair elections will depend on how the ECC asserts itself for the greater good. That is the challenge! The ECC must rise to the challenge and save the state.

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