Opposition presidential candidate Prince Y. Johnson and his Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction Party, and some other opposition parties appear to be defying the National Elections Commission (NEC’s) guideline on parties’ assets declaration.
NEC Chairman Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya told a news conference on Wednesday, 6 September that Liberian National Union of Mr. Nathaniel Blama, the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction of Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson, Movement for Progressive Change of Businessman Simeon Freeman, and Union of Liberian Democrats are yet to comply with the asset declaration mandate.
Cllr. Korkoya also names the New Liberia Party, the True Whig Party, the United People’s Party of Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh and Victory for Change of Cllr. Marcus Jones, among others, as the defiant parties.
Opposed to the actions of the listed parties, Cllr. Korkoya says political parties here were required to have submitted their [updated] accounts and declaration of assets since September 1, 2017 in accordance with Article 83 (d) of the Constitution.
“The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet to make a decision on the parties that have not met the legal deadline,” he says at the press conference in a strong tune.
Cllr. Korkoya warns that in a campaign year, all assets, liabilities and income including donations should be declared in line with the law.
Quoting Chapter 7 of the Elections Law, he says it is very detailed in this respect and the NEC will be using its powers to audit accounts to ensure all political parties respect these rules.
“This is a key transparency measure for political parties and it is important. More efforts are made to submit these documents. Transparency is not only expected from the National Elections Commission,” he adds.
According to the NEC boss, transparency is also required and expected from political parties. Of the 20 presidential candidates here, he says only nine parties have so far complied with the asset declarations at the electoral house.
He notes that the submissions of the nine compliant parties are expected to be will reviewed shortly by experts.
Parties that have complied include Grassroots Democratic Party of Liberia; Movement for Economic Empowerment; All Liberian Coalition Party; All Liberia Party; Coalition for Democratic Change; People’s Unification Party, Unity Party; Liberia Transformation Party and Alternative National Congress.
Commenting on the electoral polls being reported in the local media, Korkoya says NEC would like to encourage those conducting these polls to clearly outline to readers their details to enable the electorate to properly understand their significance.
He suggests that this can include details of how the poll is conducted, organisations involved and margin of error. He stresses the importance of providing such details to avoid misleading the public.
Regarding reports that some political parties threatened to announce their own elections results, Chairman Korkoya explains that it is the right of political parties to do so.
He however says the only body that has a legal right to announce official results of a Liberian election is the NEC.
“No other institution can announce official results of an election according to the law. So I would call on parties and the media to be extremely responsible in how they handle this matter,” he concludes.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor --Edited by Winston W. Parley