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Monday, June 17, 2024

LIBERIA: OSCAR BLOH’S SAGA – THREE CSO GROUPS DEMAND PROBE INTO ALLEGATION LINKING TO UNITY PARTY

Date:

MONROVIA – Ahead of the pending Presidential Run-off Election, three renowned local civil society organizations operating in the country have called for an immediate probe into an allegation linking the Chairperson of the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) to the Unity Party (UP).

On the evening of November 8, 2023, a video circulated on various social media platforms, especially making rounds on Facebook in which an image alleged to be that of ECC Chairperson, Cllr. Oscar Bloh was seen in the “war room” of the UP.

In the video, the image in question was seen having conversation with Liberia’s former Finance and Development Planning Minister, Mr. Amara Mohammed Konneh, with the intent to conspire with some workers of the National Elections Commission (NEC) to steal the pending run-off election.

Although the ECC has reacted to the allegation,  we strongly believe that given the fact that it borders on the integrity of civil society actors – people considered to be watchdogs of society, there is a need for an independent investigation into the matter to relief the CSO community of the reputational damage. In a society such as ours, the tendency of being untrustworthy under such circumstances is very high and we want this avoided through an investigation by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) which is the highest donor to the ECC to ascertain the truism in this grave claim.

The Liberians for Democratic Advancement (LIDA) Movement for the Defense of Women and Girls Rights in Liberia (MDWGRL) and Equal Society for All (ESA) in a joint statement called for the claim to be investigated so as to bring credibility to the pending process. We hold strongly that a credible civil society is sine qua non to the growth of our nascent democracy and sustenance of the country’s hard earned peace.

The CSO groups in the joint statement read by the Executive Director of LIDA, Mr. Festus Doe, stressed the need for a full-scale investigation into this grave allegation since the matter in essence borders on electoral integrity and as well as the credibility of the ECC, which happens to be major local election observatory group, which monitors and reports on the outcome of electoral processes.

“Though the ECC has vehemently denied the allegation linking its head with one of the parties in the pending run-off, our three organizations – the Liberians for Democratic Advancement (LIDA), Movement for the Defense of Women and Girls Rights in Liberia (MDWGRL) and Equal Society for All (ESA) hereby call for an immediate probe into the issue at hand. This investigation can be led by relevant CSO groupings and key stakeholders in the electoral process. It is our belief that this will not only ensure the credibility of the election; it will meanwhile restore integrity and confidence in the very ECC if the allegation is proven otherwise,” the statement indicated.

The groups pointed out that on the heel of said grave allegation, the ECC is under all moral obligations to exonerate itself through an independent investigation in order to maintain the trust and confidence of its many donor partners including USAID and the Embassy of Ireland that are investing hugely towards the promotion of democracy.

In so doing, the CSO groups are demanding Mr. Bloh to recuse himself from all activities of the ECC until the investigation is conducted and concluded.

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