NEC Misses Deadline to Publish Provisional List of Candidates in Montserrado’s By-Elections

MONROVIA, Montserrado- The National Elections Commission has failed to provide the provisional listing of candidates contesting in the Montserrado representative and senatorial by-elections by the deadline it set.

According to the NEC’S calendar of activities, on Sunday, May 19, the electoral body was supposed to have published the provisional list of candidates contesting in both elections on July 2.

The publication of the calendar of activities followed two separate notices from the Senate and the House of Representatives informing NEC of the vacancies created in the legislature as a result of the deaths of Sen. Geraldine Doe-Sheriff and Rep. Adolph Lawrence.

Doe-Sheriff died on February 9 in Ghana following a protracted illness, while Lawrence met his demise following a fatal motor accident near Tower Hill on the Roberts International Airport highway on March 26.

Prince Dunbar, the acting communication director of NEC, provided no specific reason for the delay in publishing the provisional list of candidates. However, he said the listing could probably be published today, May 20.

On Friday, May 17, NEC had also announced that it was postponing its exercise for the replacement of lost and damaged voter registration cards due to “prevailing circumstances.” However, no specific date has yet been announced. The activities were supposed to begin on May 20.

“The commission informs the public that a new date for the replacement of lost and damaged VR cards will be announced later,” the announcement added.

“The National Elections Commission regrets any inconvenience that the postponement of the VR cards exercise may cause the public.”

According to Dunbar, many other key activities listed to be taking place ahead of the July 2 elections are yet to kick off. But he declined to state whether these delays would affect the date of the elections.

In the absence of the release of the provisional list of candidates by the NEC, the ruling Coalition for Democratic and the four opposition collaborating political parties comprising of the All Liberian Party, Alternative National Congress, Liberty Party, and Unity Party have already made their known their candidates for both the representative and senatorial by-elections.

Liberty Party’s deputy chairman for political affairs, Abraham Darius Dillon, and Telia Urey, the daughter of the political leader of the All Liberian Party, Benoni Urey, were selected as the collaborating opposition parties’ choices for the senatorial and representative seats, respectively.

CDC also conducted its primaries on Friday, May 17 and selected Paulita Wie, deputy internal affairs minister, and former deputy minister for transport, Abu Kamara, as its candidates for the senatorial and representative seats, respectively.

Kamara won the party’s representative primary on white ballot. While serving as deputy minister, Kamara had attempted to contest the 2017 election against the late Rep. Lawrence but was barred by the Code of Conduct, which required that he resign two years prior to the election.

Just a day before CDC’s primaries, Wie, in apparent compliance with the Code of Conduct, resigned her position as deputy internal affairs minister. She said her decision to resign her position was based on numerous calls and petitions from citizens of Montserrado and CDC members to contest the pending senatorial by-election.

“I wish to officially submit to your honorable office my resignation, effective as of today, Thursday, May 16, 2019, at 5:00 p.m.,” her letter to president George Weah read.

The Code of Conduct requires appointed officials to resign within 30 days following the declaration by the National Elections Commission of a vacancy caused by a death or resignation.

Other candidates who have publicly announced they are running are Kimmie Weeks, the executive director for Youth Action International, and former presidential candidate Macdella Cooper. Both are running to be Montserrado’s next senator.

Featured photo courtesy of National Elections Commission

Gbatemah Senah

Gbatemah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. In 2017, Senah won three Press Union of Liberia awards: Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Land Rights Reporter of the Year. In 2018, he was also recognized as the Land Rights Reporter of the Year.

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