Fighters and commandants of the unbroken and uncompromising Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL), CIC Julius S. Malama, Deputy President Floyd Shivambu, International Affairs Gardee Goodrich and the entire leadership of EFF South Africa, members of the international community, religious leaders, the student community, the Islamic community, members of the press and fellow citizens.
We are here today to address a grave national electoral crisis on the continuing delay of the NEC to publish the FRR at all polling precincts throughout the country and to issue full copies of the FRR to all political parties, independent candidates and relevant stakeholders for the October 10, 2023 presidential and legislative elections as required by the election laws of Liberia. The continuing delay and intransigence of the NEC have the propensity to intensify and plunge the country into deeper and wide spread national crisis.
The NEC was established to independently and impartially administer the election laws of Liberia. Over the last two years alone, the NEC has received over US$50 million in support of carrying out these administrative functions. But when the NEC fails to follow the election laws, it unfairly transfers tremendous and unnecessary burdens on us all as election stakeholders, eligible voters and all Liberians.
Fellow citizens, Senator Dillon, as senator of the largest and most populous county in the country, Montserrado County, acted within the law to invite the NEC to the Liberian Senate and to inquire from the commission under oath about the status and concerns on administering the 2023 elections. His further invitation to the general public to go with him to the NEC on Friday, September 22, 2023 due to the failure of the commission to live up to its promise under oath to publish the FRR and to issue the FRR to political parties and independent candidates by the 18th of September, 2023 is also within the law and cannot and should not be interpreted as an act of provocation or threat.
On April 17, 2023 the commission under the chair of Davidetta Browne-Lansannah held a press conference in the presence of the press of Liberia (including the Analyst Newspaper and New Dawn Newspaper), and the International Community in which the commission announced and published the results of the Phase-I BVR Preliminary results as outlined below in item number 6 of the press conference release:
“6. Preliminary results from Phase One shows a total of 1,435,209 (One Million Four Hundred Thirty-Five Thousand Two Hundred and Nine) registrants…..This figure is subject to change due to the ongoing deduplication and adjudication process……”
|Grand Cape Mount||86,589|
Similarly, on May 25, 2023, Davidetta Browne-Lansannah chaired a press conference in the presence of the press of Liberia (including the Hot Pepper Newspaper), and the International Community in which the commission announced and published the results of the Phase-II BVR Preliminary results as outlined below in item number 1 of the press conference release:
“1. The National Elections Commission informs you that having ended on 11 May 2023 the Biometric Voter Registration in Phase Two of the nine counties, the following are preliminary results:
NOTE: As was indicated during the release of the Preliminary Results for Phase One, these figures are also subject to change following the completion of the deduplication and adjudication process……”
Again, on August 2, 2023, as reported in the Frontpage Africa Newspaper, the NEC held a briefing in collaboration with ECOWAS and the UN in which Davidetta Browne-Lansannah stated, “While the commission has transitioned to biometric voter registration, the voting in the October 10, 2023 general and presidential elections will be done manually as it has been in the past……”
“The NEC chair informed political leaders that the 27,000 duplicate records discovered during the Biometric Voter Registration process were created by 3,634 individuals who double registered…”
Below is the compilation of the preliminary results from Phase I and Phase II for all 15 counties against the final results (as reported on NEC website) after deduplications and adjudications.
|County||Polling Places||Preliminary Voters||Final Voters|
|Grand Cape Mount||213||86,589||86,529|
It is unclear how the NEC removed the 27,000 duplicate votes from the preliminary results of Phase I and Phase II to arrive at the final registered voters. Moreover, 3,634 individuals cannot produce 27,000 duplicate votes (double registering) as is claimed by the chair of the commission, Davidetta Browne-Lansannah, unless each of the 3,634 individuals on average registered more than 7 times (7 X 3,634 = 25,438).
Additionally, Grand Bassa, Margibi and Montserrado show increases from the preliminary Phase I results to the final results which should not happen given that duplicate votes were removed from the preliminary to yield the final results. Therefore, the final results for these 3 counties should be less than their preliminary numbers as are the cases with the other counties.
The commission also increased the number of polling places from 5,390 (the number of polling places in 2017) to 5,890 polling places an increase of 500 polling places although the number of polling precincts has remained unchanged from 2017. This is a significant and material change and the commission should inform the stakeholders on the reason for this increase in the number of polling places.
|County||2023 Polling Places||2017 Polling Places||Difference||% Increase|
|Grand Cape Mount||213||171||42||24.56|
NEC 2023 and 2017 Polling Places Comparison
For us in Margibi where I am on the ballot for the Senate, The NEC added an additional 59 polling places compare to 2017. We now have to allocate 882 poll watchers for each of the 441 polling places in order to protect the votes of our people.
Let me assure the voters of Margibi that our poll watchers will be vigilante in observing all aspects of the election monitoring and counting processes for both the presidential as well as the legislative elections. Our poll watchers will reconcile the 550 ballots issued for the Presidential elections and the 550 ballots issued for the legislative elections to each of the 441 polling places across Margibi.
For those candidates running in the presidential elections, the tasks of recruiting 11,780 poll watchers for each of the 5,890 polling places is very challenging. This is why it is imperative that the NEC publishes the FRR and issues same to the political parties and independent candidates without further delay.
In 2017 the NEC informed the stakeholders that it had registered 2,183,683 voters. But the NEC announced that only 1,641,922 votes were cast in the first round of the elections and an even lower votes total, 1,218,124, were recorded in the second round. Yet, the NEC, from the 2023 BVR exercises, has announced unusually high voter registrants against historical norms.
|County||2023 Final R-Voters||2017 Final R-Voters||Difference||% Increase|
|Grand Cape Mount||86,529||65,800||20,729||31.50|
We, therefore, call on all revolutionaries, national and community leaders and all well-meaning Liberians around the country to volunteer as poll watchers in the community and polling places they vote. Organize watch nights on October 10, 2023 and be vigilante as we strive to protect the votes of every Liberian.
Lastly, let me admonish our partners within the international community including the United States Embassy in Monrovia, European Union Commission, ECOWAS and the African Union.
Our people have suffered enough. Many have trekked across the Sahel into North Africa only to drown in the Mediterranean Sea as they try to seek a better life in Europe and elsewhere because their leaders at home have failed them. We all have seen the gruesome pictures flash across our televisions and newspapers.
While we, in Liberia, have embraced democracy as do many countries on the continent, it is necessarily important that the will of the people be protected and respected during elections as manifested by their votes. Electoral bodies like the NEC must be an impartial referee and obey all rules, laws and regulations at all times.
Liberia’s hard-won peace must be protected. We cannot allow Liberia to slide into unrest or war. NEC bears the greatest responsibility in ensuring that there is a free, fair, transparent and credible presidential and legislative elections. The intransigence of Davidetta Browne Lansannah in publishing and releasing the FRR and ensuring free, fair, transparent and credible elections will lead to a major crisis as we the people will not tolerate any disenfranchisement.