The National Election Commission of Liberia held a third wave of consultative meeting with the civil society to acquaint them with the purported constraints the commission says it is faced with hampering its capacity to conduct a runoff election if the October elections so required if no political party or candidate fail to get fifty plus one percent of the votes in the election as mandated by the constitution of Liberia.
Briefing the civil society in Monrovia, the election commission Chairman, James Fromayan said he called the civil society to acquaint them with the financial constraints the commission is faced with which in turn derails the commission capacity to conduct a runoff of the October election and suggest the Legislature find a way around the constitutional requirement to accommodate the prevailing circumstances of the financial constraints of the commission by suppressing the constitutional requirement which stipulates a runoff be held. Mr. Fromayan told the intense and furious civil society that his commission can not conduct a runoff election for the Legislature because it does not have the funds to do so.
The civil for their part furiously countered the commission’s assertion by reminding the election boss and his other commissioners that they took oath to protect and defend the constitution and laws of Liberia in the discharge of their duties and the commission calling upon the Legislature to circumvent the constitution and election laws is an act in direct violation of their oath of office.
The Liberian civil society told the election commission that they strongly oppose the violation of the constitution and elections laws of the country under the disguise of financial constraints and will do all within their reach to prevent the commission from coercing and circumventing the constitution and election laws of Liberia but demands it conduct the elections in keeping with the constitution and laws of Liberia.
In a very heated exchange between the civil society and the commission which had to go to three breaks because of the intensity of the meeting, they asked Chairman Fromayan while now the commission is crying financial woes this late into the election when they had the last five years to prepare for this election and the commission is well funded by USAID through IFES, the European Union and UNDP which doesn’t include the Liberian government own budgetary allotment for the commission.
The civil society gathered at the commission through many civil institutions insisted the commission is bound by law to conduct the election and runoff and there is no cutting to the chase meant to bypass what the constitution and laws mandate and as such, as far as they are concerned, financial constraints is not the basis upon which the commission is asserting it cannot conduct a runoff election the for Legislature when the constitution and laws mandate so, but from their instinct , they sense a cynical and well crafted intent by the commission to allow itself to be used as a conduit to manipulate the process to keep the current lawmakers in power who fear they will win first round election but will lose when they go for runoff.
The Liberian civil society left the commission with the recommendation that if truly financial constraints is the basis upon which the commission calling for the abrogation of the constitution and violate the election laws of Liberia, they would rather see the government put a two month freeze on all financial transactions and direct the money to conducting the elections because the election is the number one financial obligation of the Liberian government this year and wonders why the commission wasted about US$10 million on an unnecessary referendum when the commission knew it had no money for runoff election, when the election was just barely two months away.