Political campaigning begins Tuesday for Liberia’s presidential election in October where President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is seeking a second term.
Next month, Liberians will also go to the polls for a constitutional referendum to determine residency requirements for presidential candidates.
James Fromayan, chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC) said the commission wants the political season to be characterized by civility.
“We will ensure that political parties are tolerant of each other. We will not want a situation where political parties will converge on one place when engaging [in] political campaigns or rallies, as the case may be. In that light, we will be looking forward to receiving the schedule of each political party so that there’s no conflict in any of the campaign activities. We want civility to characterize the electoral activities,” he said.
Opposition parties have yet to choose their presidential candidates.
Fromayan said parties have already begun campaigning ahead Tuesday’s official starting date.
“The nomination will begin on the 20th of this month and will run until the around the 15th of August. But, as I said, really parties have been campaigning already. We have been bombarded with [a] series of questions as to why parties are already campaigning in the absence of campaigning being declared because certainly there are certain personalities who believe that their parties will carry them come what may,” Fromayan says.
Fromayan said the delay in the start of campaigning was caused by a lawsuit brought the Liberty Party which asked the courts to put a stop to the commission’s delineation of electoral districts in the counties with smaller populations.
But, he said the Supreme Court lifted the stay order when it ruled that the commission was acting within its authority to reapportion electoral districts.
On August 23, Liberians go to the polls for a constitutional referendum to determine, among other things, residency requirement for anyone seeking the presidency.
Currently, Article 52 (c) requires a 10 year residency for anyone seeking the presidency. If it passes, the requirement would be reduced to five years.
But, if the amendment fails, then Sirleaf and a number of other candidates would most likely be disqualified to run in the October elections. Fromayan would not speculate on the outcome of the August referendum.
“We will apply the rules as they obtain. So, we don’t want to preempt what will happen come August 23rd, but whatever will happen will dictate the course of action to be pursued consistent with our policy and guidelines,” Fromayan said.