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

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions 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.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid