The National Elections Commission or NEC says it has received over US$2 million for the holding of the delayed senatorial by-elections in Bong and Montserrado counties, respectively.
The Commission had earlier complained of financial constraints after its initial budget of US$3.9 Million for the two by-elections was sliced by the Ministry of Finance to US$2.7 Million with only $500,000 initially provided.
But Chairman Jerome George Korkoya told a news conference here that he has received additional money that could help jumpstart the exercise.Addressing reporters on Wednesday, May 23, at the NEC headquarters in the Sinkor suburb of Monrvia, Chairman Korkoya says the commission has been meeting with relevant stakeholders to resolve the funding issue. “I am pleased to inform you that the Liberian government has provided additional US$1,009,938 for the by-elections. Earlier, the government had provided US$500,000; this brings the total amount provided by the government to US$1, 009, 938,” the NEC boss explains.
He says partners, including the United Nations Development Programme, the European Union, Sweden, Irish Aid and Canada have committed US$565,835, adding that the United States Agency for International Development or USAID through the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) committed US$11,450 to the electoral process.
He discloses the total amount received and committed so far for the conduct of the senatorial by-elections is US$2,087,223.He however says there is an outstanding amount of US$690,706.45 from the total budget of US$2,777,929.45 agreed upon by the NEC and the government for the two by-elections.
“With the amount on hand, the commission is consummating agreements for international procurement for the printing of ballots and provision of pre-packed kits for the elections,” he assures.
Cllr, Korkoya explains that the Commission has concluded nomination of candidates for the by-elections, detailing, “Eleven of the twelve aspirants processed have been notified of the acceptance of their nomination applications. Complaint against Bong County Representative Marvin Cole, the senatorial aspirant on the ticket of the Coalition for Democratic Change is being heard by the independent hearing officer.”
He notes that with the financial issue significantly resolved, new date for the holding of the by-elections is next concern of the board of commissioners.“As you are aware, the NEC is without authority to set a new date. The Commission is therefore, holding consultation with relevant authorities of the government to remedy the date issue. NEC will inform the Liberian people on the new date for the by-elections as soon as those consultations are concluded,” Korkoya concludes.
The two by-elections are intended to fill seats left vacant as the result of the election of former senators George Manneh Weah and Jewel Howard Taylor to the Presidency in 2017.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne