The National Elections Commission (NEC) said Monday it needs the total budget of $3.9million United States dollars from the government of Liberia to conduct the pending senatorial by- elections within 90 days as required by the country’s 1986 constitution.
NEC’s Chairman Cllr. Jerome Korkoya told reporters in Monrovia the commission’s requests is based on a communication received February 1, 2018 from the Liberian Senate informing the commission of the existence of two vacancies as the result of the elections of former Senators George Weah of Montserrado County, and Jewel Howard Taylor of Bong County respectively.
He said Pursuant to Article 37 of the constitution the National Elections Commission “ Shall not less than 90 days thereafter (February 13) cause a by-election to be held” to fill these vacancies.
Based on the notice from the Liberian Senate, Cllr. Korkoya said the Chairman of the Commission, acting on behalf of the Board of Commissioners constituted a steering committee on February 14, 2018 to plan and oversee the conduct of the two by-elections within the timeframe mandated by the constitution. The steering committee is chaired by Commissioner Boakai A. Dukuly and Co-Chaired by Director of compliance and risk management, Mr. Anthony Sengbe.
“Aware of the time frame limit within which these by-elections must be completed the steering committee commenced worked almost immediately and has developed a budget for delivery of these elections amounting to $3.9m together with a clear electoral calendar,” he said.
Upon receiving the notice, budget and timelines were submitted to the Government on 26, of Feb, 2018 for funding through the Minister of Finance and Development Planning Hon. Samuel Tweah. A copy was also forwarded to the President of Liberia, George Weah for his information. Additionally, copies was forwarded to the Legislature through the Pro-Temporar of the Liberian Senate.
Government has confirmed receipt of the budget via a telephone conversation Korkoya said but the commission is yet to receive response from government regarding the final budget or a schedule of commitments and payments.
“It is important to stress that the commission needs these budgetary discussions to be concluded urgently to meet the electoral timetable. Procurement and planning deadlines to meet the election date are fast approaching and as such, the Commission is asking the government and Ministry of Finance planning and Development to prioritize this mater as to ensure that the controlling constitutional provisions are met.
Cllr. Korkoya said Nationally, there are 2.1 million registered voters of said amount, Montserrado County has the total of 778,291 and Bong County has 208,123, noting that the combined total of registered voters in the two counties in the two counties is 986, 414 or 45 percent of the total registered in Liberia.
According to him, the two counties have a total of 2,292 polling places with 1, 790 of these in Montserrado County and Bong County for 502, “This represents of 43 percent of the total number of 5390 polling places in Liberia”
Writes Alex Yomah