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Liberian opposition leader Brumskine calls for new electoral body

Chairman Korkoya, the accused corrupt and ineffective electoral chief of Liberia

MONROVIA, LIBERIA —Charles Walker Brumskine, a well-known Liberian opposition leader, and an accomplished corporate lawyer has instituted a move aimed at dissolving and reconstituting the country’s corrupt and ineffective electoral commission.

In a complaint, the Liberty Party’s leader and presidential candidate cited the actions of the electoral body during a disputed presidential election as reasons for his recommendations.

In Liberia’s 10 October 2017’s presidential election, Brumskine came third. He, however, immediately registered a complain, alleging serious fraud and irregularities which he said tainted the vote count and the entire process.

Days later, the Liberty Party filed a petition with the Liberian Supreme Court.  The legal action has threatened and would eventually derail a November 7 runoff vote between incumbent Vice-President Joseph Boakai and Senator George Manneh, an ex-international soccer star, the two frontrunners during the October.

Cllr. Charles W. Brumskine, Liberty Party.

Under the country’s electoral laws, if no candidate receives or gains more than more than 50 percent of votes, a runoff election is scheduled and held until a winner is determined.

Brumskine told media group during an interview that the current commissioners at the National Elections Commission (NEC) should be fired and replaced in the event the Supreme Court decides in favor of his Liberty Party’s lawsuit as well as request a full re-run of the October 10 vote.

“There is no way NEC can conduct a free and fair election,” he said.

“The next thing we are going to be asking for is the reconstitution of the NEC,” he added. “There is no way that (NEC Chairman) Jerome Korkoya and the team of people who are there would be allowed to hold elections in this country.”

According to the NEC’s tally, ex-soccer star Weah placed first in the October 10 poll with 38.4 percent of ballots cast to Boakai’s 28.8 percent, while Brumskine gained 9.6 percent.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a verdict in the case today, Friday and Brumskine have assured Liberians and the international community that he and the Liberty Party would abide by whatever decision the court reach on whether to allow the runoff to go ahead or not.

Meanwhile, the court has put a temporary stay order on election preparations in order to gather evidence from the electoral commission and the Liberty Party.

Many in the country and members of leaders of the West African regional bloc, ECOWAS, have put the political uncertainty and chaos on the indecent activities and meddling of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the political maverick.

Known for dubious political tricks, according to several Liberians, the Liberian leader has been unsettling, wavering from one political tactic to another to find a successor that analysts and commentators say she wants to replace her.

Vice President Boakai’s Unity Party has said it backs Brumskine’s complaint and joined him in alleging that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had “interfered” in the election by meeting polling officials at her home before the vote.

Brumskine said, “the circumstances are all pointing to the fact that the president cannot escape blame,” but admitted the president herself does not figure in his legal complaint, instead pointing the finger at her staff.

President Sirleaf, a Unity Party member, served with Boakai for 12 years after being elected as Africa’s first female leader.

The allegations have divided the Unity Party, with the vice-president and the president engaged in an open feud.

Paul Dickenson, an American analyst, said, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has a vast craving for control and power. That aspect of her life coupled with greed and insensitivity has made her mess up a historic opportunity that would cement Liberia political history.”

The 10 October’s election was expected to be Liberia’s first democratic transition in seven decades, but that may not seem to be the case.

West African leaders have been meeting with all sides of the electoral conflict on Wednesday to calm tension.

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Blama G. Konuwah

Blama G. Konuwah resides in Vancouver, Canada. He is a public issues analyst and senior contributor to Globe Afrique.

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