Sunday 20 August 2017

Liberia: Elections Campaigns Officially Begin Today

Liberia: Elections Campaigns Officially Begin Today
(Daily Observer 07/31/17)
Liberia: Elections Campaigns Officially Begin Today

The National Elections Commission (NEC) has declared campaign open for the ensuing elections as of today, Monday, July 31, at 12:01 a.m. until Sunday, October 8 at 11:59 p.m.

"During the campaign period," NEC chairman Jerome G. Korkoya said, "candidates are allowed to publish or display campaign literature, posters, flyers, banners, t-shirts, caps or other promotional items designed to support their election.

"Both political parties and independent candidates are allowed to hold marches, parades, rallies or other assemblies for the purpose of soliciting voters and promoting their candidature by way of speeches, pictures, banners, placards, or any other printed materials. They can organize campaign committees, associations and movements to support their elections."

Chairman Korkoya also warned political parties against the use of abusive and inciting speech on radio talk shows and at rallies and asked them to maintain the sanctity of the entire elections process. "The commission expects parties and candidates to conduct their campaign activities in a cordial and mature manner and to contribute to the conduct of a peaceful election," he said.

He called on parties and candidates to take note and abide by the Ministry of Justice's regulations on the organization of rallies and marches which are usually enforced by the police.

"The commission also reminds political parties and candidates of their commitment to a peaceful election as enshrined in both the Ganta Agreement and the Farmington River Declaration," Korkoya said.

Campaign Finance

The NEC chairman warned all parties and candidates to take note of Section 7.3 of the New Elections Law of 1986 as amended in 2014 and observe the limits of all campaign expenses per candidates.

"For ease of reference, campaign expenses shall not be incurred or authorized by a candidate and or a party beyond the Liberian dollars or US$ equivalent: Presidential candidates shall not spend in excess of US$2,000,000 (two million United States dollars); vice presidential candidates, not more than US$1,000,000 (one million United States dollars); and representative candidates shall not spend no more than US$ 400,000 (four hundred thousand United States dollars)," he outlined.

Korkoya noted that consistent with Section 7.6 of the New Elections Law, the commission will prescribe forms on which candidates are to report their expenses.

"As mentioned in our press statement for the release of the final voter registration figures, three of our partners, IFES, NDI and UNMIL have offered to support political party trainings in campaign finance, candidate and party agent representation and alternative dispute resolution mechanism. We encourage all parties to take advantage of these training opportunities which are aimed at enhancing their capacity to adequately participate in these elections," he said.

He said the accreditation of party and candidate's agents and organizations wishing to observe this year's elections will commence on August 5 and end on October 5. "All international organizations wishing to observe the elections may pick up accreditation forms from the political affairs section at the NEC's headquarters in Monrovia while local organizations can pick up forms at the same venue as well as the commission's 19 magisterial offices across the country," Korkoya noted. He said media practitioners will receive their accreditation through a joint operation of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and the NEC.

"Political parties and independent candidates contesting the elections are entitled to two representatives per polling place," he said, adding that parties and candidates are to submit the names of their agents to the commission during the accreditation period.

Speaking on the final list of candidates contesting the October polls, Korkoya said 1,026 are qualified to contest; and out of that number, 20 are presidential candidates followed by a corresponding number of vice presidential candidates; two are independent presidential candidates followed by their deputies. "We are pleased to announce that 18 are political party presidential candidates. There are 986 representative candidates and of this number 863, or 84.1 percent, are males while 163 or 15.9 percent are females," he said, adding that 928 are political party candidates while 98 are independent candidates.

He congratulated the government's partners of the NEC, both local and international, for continuously supporting all the processes of the elections.

By David S. Menjor

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