The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Elections and Inaugurations has expressed serious concern on the National Elections Commission (NEC) to rescind its earlier decision to print biometrics voter’s registration cards, alarming that this could be a troubling sign for the 2017 Presidential and Representatives’ Elections.
Representative Gabriel Buchanan Smith who is also from Grand Bassa County, speaking to reporters over the week said for agreement and policies finalized with the NEC and stakeholders to have changed at the eleventh hours, clearly indicates trouble along the way to 2017, if nothing were immediately done to curtail such.
Speaking at the official launch of the revised strategic plan of NEC for the 2017 electoral process on Thursday, 21 July at the Monrovia Christian Fellowship in Sinkor, he recalls that stakeholders and authorities of NEC had agreed to use biometrics voter’s identification cards for the elections, but to the dismay of many, the electoral body somersaulted on grounds that government lacks money to finance the printing of biometric cards for voter’s registration.
The Grand Bassa lawmaker, who is enjoying his second term at the Liberian Legislature, says the fact that NEC changed its policy position on the biometrics cards without consultations was worrisome, noting this should not be taken lightly.
According to him, this period in the history of Liberia is critical, so state actors should be very careful in making decision or the entire democratic process could be derailed. Rep. Smith is therefore demanding that the NEC Board of Commissioners provide detail clarification, reminding that the Liberian society is suspicious of everything and delay in not providing timely clarity may cause the public to think contrary.
At the same time the opposition Congress for Democratic Change is warning that the processes leading toward a smooth conduct of the 2017 Presidential and Representatives Elections are critical. The CDC said the NEC had earlier agreed to use biometrics voting cards for the elections, but to the surprise of political parties and leaders this has been changed.
CDC Chairman Nathaniel McGill said, authorities of NEC told political parties that government has clearly started that the total funding needed for the biometrics voter’s cards is US$14 million, which it could not finance, giving the current global financial crisis.
Speaking on behalf of the NEC, Co-chairperson Cllr. Sarah Toe said the revised strategic plan has helped the Commission to clarify the set of goals and strategies that reflect the changing external and internal environments, considering the roles and expectations of stakeholders and how those goals, in alignment and directed toward fulfilling the mission, can enhance effectiveness.
Cllr. Toe said for the next several years, the pace of change promises to be even more intense as a result of rapid advances in technology, coupled with legislative change and evolving expectations on the part of citizens and other stakeholders.