News / Africa

Liberian Opposition Party Challenges Electoral Commission's Neutrality

In Liberia, the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change party is boycotting this month's constitutional referendum, in part, because it questions the neutrality of Electoral Commission chairman James Fromayan, a long-time supporter of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Fromayan says he set aside party affiliation on taking charge of the electoral commission and could not influence the outcome of a vote even if he wanted to, because results are read out at each polling station.

“I can't add one or subtract one from whatever result that comes because people will notice it," Fromayan said. "They already know, have the results, sometimes they have the results before we can come to announce it.”

Loss of confidence

Congress for Democratic Change Secretary-General Acarous Gray says the party lost confidence in Fromayan when he co-chaired the commission during the last presidential vote.

The party says its candidate, former footballer George Weah, beat President Sirleaf because voters did not want what Gray calls an “autocratic presidency” that has been less interested in national reconciliation than in keeping power by rigging elections.

“If you saw the runoff election in 2005, many of the former warlords preferred to have supported the CDC in the runoff than supporting President Sirleaf because they felt that they were all active participants in the war and they would not have been safe under her governance process,”  Gray said.

Fromayan says the president's opponents are questioning his credibility because they have nothing else to run on in their campaign against her re-election.

“After six years you are still signing the same song that did not make sense six years ago," Fromayan asked. "You are now trying to, in a very naive way, trying to predetermine the outcome of the 2011 election. On what basis. Are you God?”

Change of heart

Among other questions, this month's constitutional referendum asks voters if they want to push back election day from October to November and open up the contest to candidates who have not lived in the country long enough to qualify at present.

Months after saying it would be impossible to conduct both a constitutional referendum and a presidential election in the same year, the electoral commission reversed itself and said the referendum would go ahead.

Attorney Jerome Verdier led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that followed Liberia's 14-year conflict. He says the electoral commission's change of heart about the referendum shows political manipulation.

“It undermines the credibility of the elections commission itself because, as a governing authority, you must be guided by the rule of law and not by the dictates of the powers that be," Verdier said.

Credibility issues

The attorney says the Sirleaf administration has failed to satisfy questions about the credibility of the commission and the laws it is using to govern elections.

“You are holding two elections - because the referendum is like an election - just about the same time under an institution that doesn't seem to have the full capacity to conduct these processes, especially almost simultaneously," noted Verdier. "That is a recipe for conflict, for confusion, for chaos."

Only one of Liberia's leading opposition parties is encouraging its supporters to take part in the referendum, but all will be subject to it results.

Verdier says the electoral commission's decision to go ahead with the referendum favors the incumbent because smaller parties with fewer funds are holding back on campaigning until they know when the vote will be held and who is eligible to run.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid