NEC IS NOT A “SACRED COW”: Must be held accountable for allegations of Electoral Fraud
The Saturday, January 3, 2015 hurry, hurry “certifications” of newly-elected senators by the National Elections Commission (NEC), while there are allegations of electoral fraud before the Supreme Court of the nation; that the elections were, in fact, not “free and fair”; and that Justice Philip Banks of the Supreme Court is right, on target, with a “stay order” Writ of Injunction are the critical case in point.
In an article entitled “The Power of the Liberian President” (The Analyst Liberia, March 11, 2013), on the awesome, all-embracing and far-reaching powers of our presidents, powers duly defined and prescribed by and enshrined in our Constitution. We detailed a listing of the Heads of ministries, agencies of government and state-owned enterprises that are appointed by the President, and “serve upon the will and pleasure” of the President - one person, who is answerable to no one in accordance with the doctrine of our unitary-structured governance/government.
To capture the nature, essence and profound impact of this power on the individuals so appointed and the nation, we gave examples - judges, the police, military and related law enforcement agencies, specialized committees or commissions of enquiries, boards of directors of state institutions and state-owned enterprises, including the National Elections Commission (NEC).
The NEC, we held, is a very powerful, reasonably well-financed Public Policy Agency, the Referee of the process (National Elections) by which acquisition of the nation’s presidency, the most powerful position of the land is determined. On this, we observed that “Indeed, the electoral process is seen by Liberian people as being manipulated and controlled by ruling, political parties. The recent, unusual abandonment of the position of chairman of the nation’s National Elections Commission and the secret, un-announced departure out of Liberia by the-then Honorable Chairman of the Commission, while in the midst of several allegations of electoral fraud, were a case in point . . . “.
Now, after the Hala-hala for postponement/holding of the October, 2014, Senatorial Elections, characterized and, with results apparently, influenced by the on-going Ebola Crisis (Cllr. Varney Sherman’s Grand Cape Mount County reported 35 new Ebola deaths and additional infections after the elections) with stunning up-sets and expected shoo-ins, we went back to our files to compare the reported results with our cordial, friendly, but critical communications with the National Elections Commission.
The Year 2014
During the year, we wrote a total of six letters to the NEC, with the first dated February 19 and the last on December 3, 2014. The first letter went like this:
“The Honorable Chairman & Members
National Elections Commission (NEC), R. L.
N/N 9th Street at Tubman Boulevard, Sinkor/Monrovia
It is our honor to present compliments and sincere greetings, and to commend you for the bold, reasonable action taken in seeking revocation of the charters of some political parties found to be in violation of relevant governing, constitutional provisions.
Not only that this action is in fulfillment of your constitutional obligation, but also, that it is consistent with national imperative of a (reasonable) reduction of the prevailing proliferation of political parties (20-something or more, and counting) in our small nation of less than 4 million people of 17 ethnic/tribal groups . . . some of these political parties were and are being organized and managed not in accordance with traditionally-accepted and practiced convention of “shared beliefs” or commonality of beliefs, policy and political philosophy, but mainly in accordance with and along ethnic/tribal lines.
Moreover, we invite, respectfully, your attention to Article 30 of the Constitution, in light of forthcoming (October, 2014) Senatorial elections for members of the Honorable, National Legislature. This article provides that only “Citizens of Liberia . . . are eligible to become members of the Legislature . . .”.
It is an open secret that there are (Liberians who are) citizens of foreign countries - individuals whose loyalty and allegiance are exclusively made and mortgaged to foreign countries – are now members of both Houses of our National Legislature, in flagrant violation of Article 30 of the Constitution.
We ask, therefore, that the Commission require sworn statements, made under oath, from candidates seeking election to the Legislature, that he/she is not citizen of a foreign country.
This requirement is in fulfillment of the Commission’s constitutional obligation; it requires no additional, legal coverage”.
Bai M. Gbala, Sr.
After, approximately, four months (February, March, April and May, 2014) without response from the Commission, we wrote and published the same letter of February 19 above, but Open Letter dated May 8, 2014. Then the Commission responded by this letter dated June 18, 2014:
Republic of Liberia
NATIONAL ELECTIONS COMMISSION
TUBMAN BOULEVARD, 9th & 10th STREETS, SINKOR - P.O. BOX 2044
OFFICE OF THE CHAIRMAN F~:23177226245
June 18, 2014
Honorable Bai M. Gbala
Dear Honorable Gbala:
I present compliments on behalf of the National Elections Commission (NEC) and acknowledge
receipt of your open letter of May 8, 2014, by which you reminded the Commission to observe and
apply Article 30 of the Constitution of Liberia during the ensuing Special Senatorial Election. The
Commission appreciates your interest in its work and is profoundly grateful for the timely reminder
about the need to ensure that very critical constitutional requirements are enforced.
Your recent commendation of the Commission's decision to ask the Civil Law Court to revoke the
registration of delinquent political parties is well noted. While other citizens take delight in
criticizing the Commission without making any meaningful-suggestions, you preferred to document
your suggestions to the Commission for which we are grateful. The Commission would like to
encourage you, as a prominent citizen of this country, to continue to proffer suggestions on issues
sthat are relevant to the improvement of our electoral process.
Regarding the requirement for aspirants to present sworn statements on-their citizenship,- please
permit me to inform you that in keeping with Section '2.9 of the New Elections Law, the
Commission has, since 2005, always included in its guidelines the requirement for aspirants to
present sworn statements/affidavits of their citizenship during the nomination of candidates in every
election. This requirement has similarly been deveioped and incorporated in our Candidates
Nomination Procedures to govern the candidates' nomination for the ensuing 2014 Special
Once again, thank you for your interest in the work of the Commission and please do not hesitate to
let us know of any area of the electoral process we could improve on.
Please accept the assurances of my highest esteem
Jerome G. Korkoya, J.D.
Website: www. Necliberia.org
To this letter, we replied, dated July 31, 2014:
Honorable Jerome G. Korkoya, J. D.
Chairman, National Elections Commission, R. L.
N/N 9th Street at Tubman Boulevard, Sinkor/Monrovia
Dear Honorable Korkoya:
We present sincere greetings and compliments in continuation of this healthy dialogue, while we emphasize that the problem of the impact of dual citizenship on our mall, poor Nation may not be over-emphasized.
That impact is critical to the very survival of the Nation and people with, particular, respect to foreign policy (national security) and economic development. In that, it will be unreasonable, indeed dangerous, to entrust the well-being and life of our Nation and people to an “Alien Liberian”, a dual citizen, one who has renounced/denounced and mortgaged his/her loyalty, allegiance and patriotism, exclusively, to a foreign (nation) power.
For this and several, other reasons, Liberian Law forbids dual citizenship in general and, in particular, forbids dual citizens to become members of our National Legislature (Article 30 of the Constitution).
In your response, dated June 18, 2014 to our letter, you wrote that “the Commission has, since 2005, . . . included in its guidelines the requirement for . . . sworn statements/affidavits . . . of citizenship . . . This requirement has been . . . incorporated . . . to govern . . . nominations for . . . 2014 Special Senatorial Elections”. But, there are, at the present, known dual citizen-members of the Legislature as the direct result of the NEC-supervised, 2005 elections, in flagrant violation of your Guidelines and Article 30. Also, there are others holding sensitive, national positions in government, including commissioners of your National Elections Commission. Reasonably, lawfully, therefore, un-verified and un-supported “sworn statements/affidavits” are worthless.
The NEC is obligated, specifically, by law (Article 30 & the Guidelines), to verify sworn statements/affidavits and to enforce/penalize violations. There is no need for new law or for the NEC to wait for private complaints to verify “sworn statements/affidavits”.
Moreover, we note from press reports (FrontPage & New Dawn, July 28, 2014) that “the NEC cleared Weah, Sirleaf and others . . .”; however, some candidates “cleared” had been and are accused of dual citizenship, while others are known dual citizens, based upon documentary evidence.
Please permit us to note that our socio-political mentor and all-time benefactor, the country from which we borrowed, almost, all of our laws and upon whose system of political organization/management ours is modeled, and indeed, one of the most powerful nations on this planet - the United States of America, is caught and entangled in the web of dual citizen-activities, particularly, regarding its domestic (political/economic) and foreign (national security) policies. The USA is now involved in an effort to extricate itself from or find a way out of nuclear confrontation with some developing/developed nations, due to disloyal acts by dual citizens. We, Liberians, should and must learn to benefit from the US experience.
While we pause for your response to the issues and questions raised, attached herewith, is our self-explanatory Rejoinder (datelined Pennsylvania, USA, 2005) on dual citizenship, relevant to the NEC and our nation, for your information.
Bai M. Gbala, Sr.
Elsewhere, however, we wrote, based upon experience, that there is a “Conspiracy of Silence”, a sort of “let-them-write-and-talk, while-we-do-our-thing”, in Liberian officialdom, in terms of an open, truthful, reasonable, civil and cordial debate and exchange of views on the critical challenges facing our country. So, the clamed-up by the NEC was and is a reasonable expectation, not surprising; therefore, we fired off the last of our six letters, a somewhat summary of our views, to the NEC, dated December 3, 2014, some 17 days before the Senatorial elections. For the information and benefit of our readers and fellow compatriots, we present the letter hereunder:
OPEN LETTER TO NATIONAL ELECTIONS COMMISSION (NEC)
The Chairman & Members
National Elections Commission, R.L.
N/N 9th Street at Tubman Boulevard
Ladies & Gentlemen of the Commission:
It is our honor to present sincere greetings and compliments in continuation of the “healthy dialogue” on the critical issues of our time, affecting our troubled nation.
Deeply concerned and troubled about the prevailing atmosphere of election campaign violence - “Weah Vs. Sirleaf” (FrontpagAfrica, New Democrat & New Dawn, November 27, 2014), the “Siege of Monrovia” (New Dawn, New Democrat & Heritage, December 1, 2014) and the possibility of more violence ahead, we pen this Letter with the hope that it will provoke you to respond with information for the Liberian voters, although you did not treat, in detail, the issues raised in many of our previous letters . . . “.
In our response (of July 31, 2014) to your letter dated June 18, 2014, “ . . . we emphasized that the problem or impact of dual citizenship on our small, poor nation may not be over-emphasized”; that “that impact is critical to the very survival (like the on-going Ebola Epidemic) of the nation with, particular, respect to foreign policy (national security) and economic development; and that it will be unreasonable, indeed dangerous, to entrust the well-being and life of our Nation and people to an ‘Alien Liberian’ dual citizen, one who has renounced/denounced and mortgaged his/her loyalty, allegiance and patriotism, exclusively, to a foreign power”, during these days of violence – international, political/economic, religious and ethnic/tribal bigotry and hatred.
“Because of these, and several, other reasons”, we noted that “Liberian Law forbids dual citizenship in general and, in particular, forbids dual citizens from becoming members of our National Legislature (Article 30 of the Constitution)”.
By your letter dated June 18, 2014, you declared that “the Commission has, since 2005 . . . included in its guidelines, the requirement for . . . sworn statements/affidavits . . . of citizenship . . . This requirement has been . . . incorporated . . . to govern . . . nominations for the . . . 2014 Special Senatorial Elections”. We responded but you have not answered, “Honorable Chairman & Members of the Commission, that there are, at the present, known dual citizen-members of the Legislature as the direct result of the NEC-supervised, 2005 elections, in flagrant violation of your Guidelines and Article 30. Also, there are others holding sensitive, national positions in government, including (possibly) commissioners of your National Elections Commission . . . The NEC”, we continued, “is obligated, especifically, by law (Article 30 & the Guidelines) to verify sworn statements/affidavits and to enforce/penalize violations. There is no need for new law or laws, and that it is not necessary for the NEC to wait for private complaints to verify “sworn statements/affidavits”.
Now, among the candidates approved by the NEC for the Mid-Term, October, 2014, Senatorial Elections are Messrs George Weah of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and Robert Sirleaf, Independent. During the 2005, general & presidential elections, Mr. Weah stood for President of Liberia. He was accused of French citizenship by a combined group of concerned citizens – the Progressive Action for Change (PAC), Brains of Liberia (BOL) and Coalition of Political Parties Youth (CPPY) – in a complaint submitted to the NEC. (This time, Mr. George Weah is accused of being a US citizen with a US passport by a senior member of his, Mr. Weah’s political party, according to New Dawn, December 19, 2014).
Now, comes Mr. Robert A. Sirleaf, Independent candidate for the Senate, approved by you, the NEC. However, Mr. Sirleaf has been accused of US citizenship. According to the Honorable, Mr. Melvin Snowe’s press statement:
“Fellow Liberians . . . Mr. Robert A. Sirleaf, son of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Senior Advisor to the President of the Republic of Liberia . . . (is) a taxpaying citizen of the United States of America, with US Passport number 2181983813, issued June 7, 2006 . . . Attached are a few supporting documents for your review . . . . Why would Mr. Sirleaf try to play on the intelligence of the Liberian people?” Moreover, agents of the Bureau of Immigration & Naturalization were allegedly penalized or dismissed for allegedly leaking Mr. Robert Sirleaf’s alleged request to the Bureau for residence permit in Liberia. Additionally, a group of concerned Liberians submitted a complaint to you, the NEC, in which they challenged Mr. Robert Sirleaf’s Liberian citizenship, that he, Mr. Sirleaf, is a US citizen with a US passport, presented in evidence . . . But Messrs Robert Sirleaf and George Weah are, now, on the campaign trail with NEC approval.
The NEC Ruling on Allegations of 2005 Elections
These complaints/allegations . . . against several individuals, sought to bar the so-called “high-profiled, big shots”, some of Liberia’s “traditional untouchables”, from standing for office on the allegation that they are guilty of acts of political infidelity by allegedly denouncing and renouncing their Liberian citizenship and taking on foreign citizenships. Many of today’s “Honorables”, awarded this earned title, fall into this class of “political infidelity” to the Republic.
The National Elections Commission, then headed by Counselor-at-Law, Madam Frances Johnson-Morris-Allison, treated these critical charges and counter-charges of national significance, apparently, . . . “with kid gloves”, by a ruling in favor of, almost, all of the most important and challenged defendants, based, primarily, on emotional arguments of “short-term peace”, seemingly not to “rock the boat” . . . but not on the critical issues of national security and the survival of the state. To this Ruling . . . we responded, datelined Philadelphia/Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA, August, 2005, that:
“The rest is now left in the fragile hands of the Liberian Voters, an overwhelming majority of which is poor, hungry, relatively uninformed and lacks the ability to reflect, analyze and interpret the critical issues of this general elections, with particular respect to the requisite qualities desirable for political leadership - the social, economic and political impact of their votes in these crucial elections”.
“The Voters will now be, and are, asked to select/elect leader(s) from a mosaic of Liberian ‘politicians’: some come from the traditional, conservative school of Liberian politics who refuse to ‘rock the boat, but stay the course’, whatever that may portend, while oppressive, dishonest and corrupt; others are ‘progressives’ who crossed carpet to become traditional, carpet-baggers, hypocritical to their principles; still some are utopian socialists, with activities a la Karl Marx and authoritarianism; while there are others who are purely democratic, political theorists, but with tyrannical tendencies; and others who are ethnic or tribal patriots, who refuse or reject the inclusion of other ethnic groups, particularly, the so-called Congo- and Americo-Liberians in national, political affairs”.
“The unfolding political circumstances create, will continue to create, a condition of anger, frustration, hopelessness, helplessness and the perception of betrayal, with what Liberians call ‘mango-mango, dee-dee-bah or cro-cro-gee’. This scenario is highly likely to explode with a negative impact on the entire, socio-political landscape of our, Liberian society”.
That prediction appears to be unfolding today!!
The Liberian People, your employers, are entitled to a full, public disclosure on this issue of the citizenship of these prominent Liberians. Your credibility is on the line – at stake.
Honorable Commission, may we invite your attention to the much-talked about and reported notion of “consultations” that you, the Commission, have had with the Senate, political parties and other “stakeholders” on postponement or holding of the Mid-Term, Senatorial Elections now, during the on-going, Ebola Crisis.
The decision – to postpone or to hold the elections now – should, will, is and must be based only, and only, on the Liberian Constitution, reason, ethics and morality, upon which law is based and from which Law draws its majesty, and the facts or falsity of the deadly impact of the Ebola Epidemic upon the Nation. The Senate, political parties and the so-called “stakeholders” have and declared interest in holding the elections. Therefore, “consultations” of the Senate, political parties and the “stakeholders” . . . is and will be in support of holding the elections and constitutes “conflict of interest”. Either way, the Commission will be held responsible!!
Bai M. Gbala, Sr.