As the December 8, 2020 midterm senatorial elections draw closer, the leadership of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) has written the National Elections Commission (NEC) expressing its reservation on the much publicize December 8 elections, calling on the NEC to put an immediate halt voters roll update, and demanding a full clean-up of the 2017 Final Registration Roll (FRR).
Below is the full text of the CPP communication to the National Elections Commission Chairperson, Madam Davidetta Browne Lansanah:
September 18, 2020
Hon. Davidetta Browne Lansanah, CHAIR
National Elections Commission
9th Street, Sinkor
Dear Hon. Browne-Lassanah:
Re: CPP DEMANDS IMMEDIATE HALT/NULLIFICATION OF THE ONGOING MOBILE VRU AND FULL & TRANSPARENT CLEAN-UP OF THE 2017 FRR
We bring you greetings from the CPP.
As the largest opposition bloc in Liberia, it is our patriotic duty to raise the alarm and request you to take concrete steps and actions to protect our fragile democracy. We are gravely concerned that Liberia risks fraudulent elections in the 2020 Special Senatorial Elections, and a possible relapse into violent conflict, unless you halt and correct the ongoing fraudulent Mobile Registration Update exercise and conduct a full clean-up of Liberia’s voters roll. Our fear of possible violent conflict is further justified by the warning sounded by Liberia’s Defense Minister, as reported in the September 18, 2020 edition of the Frontpage Newspaper. Attached herewith is a newspaper clip of the Minister’s warning, marked Exhibit “i”.
As you are aware, elections can cause major disruption of peace and stability when not properly handled. It is only proper for the NEC to see the urgency and halt and correct the ongoing fraud and institutionalized fraud and thereby prevent the country from sliding back into crisis – a situation that none of us wants. We are therefore formally requesting, calling for, and demanding an immediate halt to/nullification of the ongoing Mobile Voter’s Registration Update; and a transparently supervised (by the international community) full and comprehensive clean-up of the 2017 Final Voters Registration Roll before the conduct of any elections in Liberia.
The basis for our request
On September 10, the CPP wrote you a letter, to which you are yet to respond. In that letter, we pointed out the fact that the ongoing Voters Roll Update (VRU) is not feasible and will not be credible; that the NEC has not, and does not intend to conduct a full voters’ roll clean-up exercise as ordered by the Liberian Supreme Court and the National Legislature in a Joint Resolution of June 5, 2020.
Madam Chair, we wish to register that the ongoing VRU is a complete fraud in design, a recipe for fraudulent elections, and a dress rehearsal for future chaos and instability of this country.
The CPP emphasized from the onset that both the postponement of the Special Senatorial Elections, outside the constitutional timeframe from October 13, 2020 to December 8, 2020 as well as the decision to conduct a Mobile VRU were unilateral decisions of the NEC, in collusion with the ruling party-led Government, without any consultation with the CPP or any opposition party in Liberia.
As we rightly predicted and feared, in our September 10th letter to you, the ongoing VRU exercise has become a massive scheme for NEC field workers to disenfranchise legitimate voters, register anew already-registered voters without retrieving their previous voters’ IDs, pile up the already bloated voters’ roll with ghost names and illegitimate voters, and produce multiple voting cards to single individuals. For example,
- On September 11, 2020, NEC field teams in Grand Cape Mount County failed to comply with the schedule of movement and did not appear at designated polling precincts. Instead, while legitimate voters were waiting in line to be registered at NEC’s designated centers, NEC field teams detoured and proceeded to secret centers where they conducted secret registration for individuals believed to be brought in from neighboring Sierra Leone by an incumbent Senator, Victor Watson, of the ruling party, with the support of a wealthy business man, Iddrisa Massary. Registration centers at Fornor, Kawellahun, Kongo, Laah, Mabon Wanga, Mabon Dorley, Todemei, Sembehun, Latia, Roberstports High, Islamic Model, Kin Jor, Dassalamu, etc , were affected. At some point in Jene, Grand Cape Mount County, NEC field teams in collusion with ruling party officials opened the Liberia-Sierra Leone border and registered many Sierra Leoneans, provoking protests, fist fights and bloody injuries among ruling party supporters and opposition supporters, resulting to the brutalization of opposition supporters. Attached is photo of a wounded opposition member, marked “Exhibit A”. Similar occurrence took place in District #2 in Montserrado, in Gbapolu, in Grand Gedeh and border towns of Lofa County. The CPP gives notice that we will produce evidence, including sworn testimonies, to substantiate these claims
- As a result of protests against importing and registering Sierra Leoneans on Liberian soil, NEC’s Magistrate in Grand Cape Mount County, Mr. David Armah, abandoned his NEC assigned vehicle, embarked a dark-grey SUV and crossed over to neighboring Sierra Leone, with NEC’s boxes and voters registration materials late evening on Tuesday, September 15, 2020, with all his phones off; and based on information and belief backed by evidence including voice recording and pictures, he did register hundreds of illegal voters within the Republic of Sierra Leone, with the facilitation, knowledge, acquiescence, and for the benefit of incumbent Victor Watson, and a wealthy business man in Grand Cape Mount, Idrisa Massaray. The CPP gives notice that we will produce evidence, including sworn testimonies, to substantiate these claims
- In further pursuit of their fraudulent scheme, NEC field workers in Grand Cape Mount County have refused, failed and neglected to post and display the list of those who registered, even upon demands from CPP observers. Their refusal to post the final list is intended to enable NEC’s field workers to infuse additional names secretly at night without the presence of CPP and other observers. Similar incidences have occurred in seven additional counties. The CPP gives notice that we will produce evidence, including sworn testimonies, to substantiate these claims
- On the same date—September 11, 2020 and thereafter, there is public evidence that many candidates were trucking and busing hundreds of voters from Montserrado to other counties, contrary to the objective of the ongoing VRU exercise, which among other things, seeks to register in their locales voters who have turned 18, those who have changed residences, and those who are eligible to vote but did not register in 2017. Attached are photos of trucks and buses transporting voters illegally, marked “Exhibit B”. The CPP also gives notice that we will produce evidence, including sworn testimonies, to substantiate these claims
- After few days of trucking and busing voters, when residents of Cape Mount threatened to barricade any trucking or busing of voters, NEC field teams secretly moved to the home (in Jah Tondo Town, Monrovia, Montserrado County) of the same Cape Mount-based businessman to carry on illegal registration of Monrovia-based voters for Cape Mount, using registration materials that were supposed to be used at the above-listed centers in Cape Mount. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE. Similar situation is reported in at least six additional counties.
- There is evidence that a single individual obtained three voters ID on a single day at three separate centers. See voters ID marked “Exhibit C”.
- In other places, individuals are bearing voters cards without names. See voter ID marked “Exhibit D”.
- In more instances, the same individual registered with different ages, and both as male and female at separate centers.See voter Idmarked “Exhibit E”.
- Moreover, NEC is registering voters who change residences without presenting their previous Voter’s ID.
10.Contrary to the agreements reached at the IPCC that the VRU would only allow previous registered voters who changed address to register only in the same county, since that would mean voting for the same senatorial candidate, the CPP is disturbed that NEC is registering voters from one county to register in other county, thus turning the entire process into new voters registration and not a VRU.
11.CPP has also observed that NEC is registering kids below the age of 18. See photomarked “Exhibit F”.
12.As these are happening at thousands of centers across the country, adding to existing reports that NEC workers in the past and now, collude with wealthy and powerful individuals to prepare over 5000 voters cards – using pre-taken passport photos of individuals from neighboring countries, and turning the batch of cards over to a single candidate, such as with news reports linking Representative Zoe Penue of Grand Gedeh. See Newspaper clip marked “Exhibit G”. Throughout Liberia, there are many Zoe Penues in several counties.
13.Although the VRU exercise commenced on September 11, NEC field teams did not arrive in several counties until September 13. Maryland, Grand Kru, Rivergee, Sinoe and other counties, to name a few. The CPP gives notice that we will produce evidence, including sworn testimonies, to substantiate these claims
- Agents from the Ruling Party are posted at registration centers paying newly registered voters LD500 to record the serial numbers on the newly issued voter registration cards. The prime reason for such act is to produce new registration cards for people who are believed to be their supporters. By this, there will be people with voter cards with the same serial numbers. The CPP totally rejects this act. The CPP gives notice that we will produce evidence, including sworn testimonies, to substantiate these claims
15.In Grand Bassa County, NEC teams registered everybody who came to the center as if it was a new registration. Both current and new voters were registered without retrieving existing voters IDs. Upon protest from CPP, when NEC went back to the center to correct the process, those already registered had all left the area. The CPP gives notice that we will produce evidence, including sworn testimonies, to substantiate these claims.
As we warned the NEC in our letter, we are gravely concerned about the disastrous outcome using the Mobile VRU. Our concern is justified by current massive fraud and evidenced by disastrous outcome of 2014, using the same Mobile VRU. In 2014, the NEC conducted a Mobile VRU for five (5) weeks, during the dry-season month of March, with a problem-free Voters Roll from 2011. The mobile process then encountered serious problems in 2014, because, in many cases, the teams arrived at locations where the people to register had not arrived, or departed when those to do the registration had already left. The Mobile VRU in 2014 targeted to register one hundred and twenty thousand (120,000) voters in the 2014 VRU, a target the NEC failed to achieve over a period of five months. It is utterly unbelievable that NEC has planned to magically register three hundred thousand (300,000 – as we have gathered from credible sources) in two weeks during the raining season month of September with a problematic voters’ roll from 2017.
It is only foolhardy to believe that what could not be properly achieved under favorable conditions in 2014, over a period of five (5) weeks, can be achieved under less favorable conditions in two (2) weeks.
The CPP believes that the only viable option to a VRU exercise in Liberia is the Stationary Approach, which entails opening all the precincts across the Country for the entire period of the Registration Process. We note very vehemently that no Voter Registration or Update Exercise has ever been conducted in Liberia for 15 days, particularly in a rainy season, even with the use of the Stationary Approach. To insist that the pending Voters Roll Update Exercise be conducted using the mobile method is tantamount to mere symbolism and cosmetic showmanship intended to achieve a rigging of the process.
The CPP therefore demands and urges NEC to immediately halt the ongoing VRU, conduct a stationary registration process, and allow international experts and observers to supervise the VRU process.
Madame Chair, the NEC has failed to clean-up the voters roll, in defiance of the Legislature and the Supreme Court, with intent to rig elections
In November 2017, the Supreme Court of Liberia acknowledged several irregularities in the Final Registration Roll (FRR), also known as Voters Roll (VR). The Supreme Court therefore ordered the NEC to “conduct a full clean-up of the FRR to ensure that multiple names of identification numbers are removed therefrom” … in consultation with and information to political parties…”
Consequently, the 54th National Legislature in a Joint Resolution on June 5, 2020 further mandated that “a clean-up process of the 2017 FRR shall be conducted by the NEC with the involvement of political parties….”. The Resolution also mandated the NEC to employ the “services of technicians from Political Parties for the cleaning up of the 2017 FRR…”
To date, the NEC has refused, failed and neglected to conduct a full clean-up of the FFR with the participation of political parties.
The CPP requests that NEC conducts a full clean-up of the voters exercise, consistent with the mandates of the Supreme Court and National Legislature, before elections are held in Liberia