The opposition Unity Party (UP) says now that the elections have ended and the National Elections Commission has declared a winner, it is its duty as a party to let partisans and supporters know the response of the party and what action it has decided to take.
“We declare that the conduct of the Senatorial elections was marred by many irregularities. Some of these were outright illegal actions that impacted the results. We have placed them into several categories,” declared Joseph Nyumah, Sr., UP Standard Bearer.
Speaking for the first time since the former ruling party’s defeat to Independent Candidate Joseph Kpator Jallah, the UP political leader stated that during the period leading up to the campaign, the National Elections Commission (NEC) conducted the replacement of lost and damaged voter registration cards only in Voinjama and Kolahunand did not include the other three electoral districts. At the time, UP cried that it demanded that the NEC extend the exercise throughout the county to allow full participation. This demand, the party claims, was not heeded and that action resulted into many Lofains not being able to participate in the election process.
It argues that there has been no justification for this action from the NEC and that the independent Election Coordinating Committee (ECC) has also highlighted this in its report. UP believes this alleged selective replacement of VR CARDS only in two districts leaving out the others disenfranchised many other legitimate voters in Lofa County.
“Our second pre-election malpractice observation that we also noted with grave concern was the publication of the final voter roll on the eve of the elections. The publication of the voter roll is intended to allow interested parties to observe several things, including names that were left out of the roll that should be there, names that were posted that should not be there, duplicated names, names without photographs or clear identification etc. The publication of the final voter roll on the eve of the elections means that there was no time to make corrections or to authenticate the roll. We see this as an abuse of power. It is the use of government authority with impurity, in order to put the opposition in a disadvantageous position since manipulation of the roll is made easier when no time is allowed for proper inspection,” Boakai stated on behalf of the party.
The party further claims that its poll watchers observed that there were many voters with valid voter registration cards that were denied the right to vote because their names were not on the final voter roll. As far as the party is concerned, this was also observed by independent observers of the elections. “The practice in the past has been to allow these voters to cast their votes provisionally so that the votes are included after verification. In most instances that was not done,” he said.
The UP Standard Bearer, also former Vice President of Liberia, on the other hand quoted his party poll watchers as observing that selective voters with no voter registration cards were allowed to vote. He said this resulted in inflation of the number of votes and made the elections unfair in at least thirty percent of the polling places.
“We also observed vote-buying on elections day. Some politicians were interfering with the elections by offering to pay voters who took pictures of their votes and presented them as evidence of how they voted. This act is illegal, and we call on the authorities to immediately investigate this and bring the perpetrators to justice. Unity Party offers to work along with this investigation in this regard.
We also observed that on the day of the elections, there was an unusually heavy presence of armed officers of the Armed forces of Liberia and the Liberian National Police in Lofa County. The manner in which they conducted themselves was intimidating to the local people and it resulted in many voters shying away from the polls. Again, we point to the abuse of power by those in authority with the intent to impact the elections. The heavy presence of armed men was unprecedented and unnecessary and in our opinion only used to intimidate voters. We call on the authorities to justify this abuse of power,” the UP political added.
The UP Standard Baer went on to point out that on Thursday, June 30, 2022, the National Elections Commission announced provisional results from the bi-election. “During the night hours of the same day, the results were posted on the website of the commission. What was posted shocked many Liberians and international observers. Our very capable Technical Team quickly observed the following discrepancies in the results posted on the NEC’s website: a. Results from some centers, for example Foya Market Hall in District 1, were doubled thereby presenting more votes per candidate than the total number of registered voters.
b. Results posted from many of the centers had candidates Joseph Kpator Jallah and Mariamu Fofana names appearing at least two times each and showing that they had gotten different vote totals at the same polling place.c. Candidates who contested in previous elections were also listed as having won votes in these elections even though they did not participate. Some candidates from 2020 were listed, and in one instance a candidate from 2011 was also listed.
d. Following an immediate highlighting on social media of the unimaginable results posted by the Elections Commission on its website by our Technical Team and the resulting public outcry by Liberians in and out of Liberia, the National Elections Commission quickly shut down its website to the public. Hours later when the website was restored, we saw that different results were posted. The NEC would later inform the public that there were attempts to hack its website. e. In accordance with international electoral practice, a declaration of bulk election results is usually associated with rigged elections. To ensure transparency, election results should be disaggregated to enable the key stakeholders to obtain comprehensive information regarding the process. The bulk result announced by the NEC is a clear indication that there were some things going on that were unusual. This is made more evident by the fact that the commission has up to fifteen days to announce the result. That is sufficient to make the announcement in detail as to polling place and number of votes per candidate. f. We continue to observe that the numbers published by the elections commission do not add up and that the totals and the percentages are not making sense. Members of the public have observed that attempt to print from the NEC website results in completely different information being printed. This has led us to believe that the information provided to the public could be different from the actual figures that the NEC has in its possession. g. We are greatly troubled by the NEC statement that there were attempts to hack its website beginning on the 30th of June when as a matter of fact the elections results were announced after this date. Was the hacking successful? Or was there any hacking at all? These are legitimate questions that we asked in light of all the things that have been done in these elections. We submit to you, fellow Liberians, that what was posted by the Commission on its website was the product of NEC itself and these efforts are geared towards changing the results of the election.”
As stated by the UP, it cannot list all of the many data-related glitches that it has uncovered. Yet, it points to what it refers to as two deliberate violations that clearly cast doubts on the validity of the results announced by the NEC and undermine the sanctity, credibility, and integrity of the votes cast in Lofa County on June 28, 2022.
Ex-VP Boakai said: “Unity Party and her allies take these many violations seriously as they have the effect of NEC selecting a Senator of Lofa County. How insulting to LofaCounty!!! The people of Lofa county deserve better than an irregular and mistake-prone process presided over by National Elections Commission. Over and over, we have questioned the credibility and capacity of this NEC to conduct free and fair elections in Liberia. Their open display of partisanship is also a troubling matter. We do not believe that the Commission as currently constituted can hold credible elections in Liberia in 2023.”
Boakai made it known that the Unity Party and its allies are convinced that the current Elections Commission is not representative of the people’s interest and should therefore be scrapped and replaced by a competent and partisan free NEC to prepare for 2023 general and presidential elections. “Our country has come through so much and cannot continue to trade peace with a disorderly election. We, therefore, ask our partisans, the United Nations, the United States of America, the European Union, the African Union, ECOWAS, and all friends of Liberia to ensure the future of our country in this endeavor. Meanwhile, our legal team will be communicating with the National Election Commission to establish our final position on Lofa,” he concluded.