How True Is It That Ballot Boxes Were Found In The Streets?

By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)

Yesterday while listening to a local radio station, I heard that the defeated candidate Jeremiah Whapoe of the Vision for Liberia Transformation (VOLT), alleging that he received information that ballot boxes, containing votes cast were found in the streets. He said that when he and a businessman went to the offices of the Liberty Party to show solidarity with that party which filed complaints with the National Elections Commission (NEC) for alleged irregularities and fraud during the October Presidential and Representative Elections. The Party and its Standard Bearer, Cllr. Charles Brumskine, Vice Standard Bearer, Harrison Kanwea and representative candidates are calling for a re-run of the process.

At the ceremony, Mr. Whapoe said, “We have seen clearly demonstrated by the inability of the National Elections Commission (NEC) to administer the democratic process in Liberia in the way that everyone who falls within the confine of the Liberian border should feel the presence of the democratic process. Lots of people were disenchanted and disenfranchised by the process including Vision for Liberia Transformation (VOLT). Ballot boxes have been found in the streets.”

He went on: “Supporters called me and said Dr. Whapoe, we saw ballot boxes in the streets. Ballot boxes have been found in the streets which supposed to be in the custody of the NEC with people’s registered voting centers. Accordingly, the number at each polling center supposed to be 500, but the number escalated to 1,000 and more. This is where we need to define. This is where we need to ask for justice.”

Furthermore, he said, “ We join the thousands on the streets crying for peace, but if you ask for peace without demanding justice, you might end up losing peace and justice. So, we have come in solidarity with Cllr. Brumskine and his partners for justice,” he stated.

Today my focus is not on the entire statement reported verbatim, but the one that relates to his claim of ballot boxes being found in the streets when he said, “Supporters called me and said Dr. Whapoe  we say ballot boxes in the streets. Ballot boxes have been found in the streets which supposed to be in the custody of the NEC.”

Even though the matter has been heard by NEC which is expected to rule in it shortly, I take this assertion by this politician seriously because of its implication at this time when some parties are crying foul. As I continue to say that I hail the Liberty Party (LP) of my friend, Cllr. Brumskine for pursing the legal means of going to NEC and the Supreme Court, instead of engaging in any violent act which could be detrimental to the nation and its people. I will always respect him for this. In fact, I am not surprised over this move.

The issue in this piece is whether or not the claim by his purported supporters that ballot boxes were found in the streets should be considered as true. To this I say a BIG NO! This is something unbelievable and should be considered a concoction and mischief. I find myself in a state of disbelief that in the face of modern technology, especially the FACEBOOK  ballot boxes would be found in public places, like the streets, without they  being publicized or put on the FACEBOOK or even in the local media. This could be an imagination and bizarre by his supporters, perhaps to get something from him, because it lacks any iota of truth that ballot boxes would be in the streets.

As I have always said, there were problems during the process, but to suggest that ballot boxes were found in the streets is logically a fallacy and this should be considered by well-meaning Liberians. While it is necessary to raise some of the challenges discovered during the voting process, it is equally important to point out the real facts to help improve the system or to avoid a recurrence of those same problems. But to say that ballot boxes were found in the streets without any report on them is a complete lie and fabrication to put monkey’s wrench ongoing investigation or to buy public sentiments and sympathy, considering the gullibility of our people.

It is time that our political leaders should avoid misguided, reckless and inciting statements and comments for selfish reasons. Already, this country, given the aftermath of the elections, coupled with marriage of convenience and strange bedfellow, is in a state of uncertainty.

And so for one to make unfounded and unsubstantiated claim of ballot boxes found in the streets, is unfair and diabolical and can be likened to adding insult to injury. Dr Whapoe and his likes should not believe everything people tell them, especially in this, “THEY SAY” society.

As we say in ethical journalism, “always cross-check the information before going public.” There should always be room for skepticism. Yes, there were irregularities, which NEC also acknowledged, but this other claim of ballot boxes were found in the streets, is complete falsehood and a make-up by people presumably in a state of hallucination or phantasm.



The International CommunityTalking OOO!!! Are We Paying Heed To Their Concern?

By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)

Recently, three International bodies expressed concern over the prospects of a significant delay in bringing the litigations to their closure thereby completing the election process before the constitutionally mandated date of government’s transition.

In a joint statement at the time the three groups- AULOL, ECOWAS and UNMIL urged all concerned to continue utilizing the established legal mechanisms to achieve resolution, but expressed concern over the prospects of significant delay in bringing the hearings to its closure so that the election process can be completed before the constitutional mandated date of government’s transition in January 2018.

Additionally, the AULOL, ECOWAS and UNIMIL have reiterated that in pursuit of efforts to facilitate a peaceful transition, all parties and stakeholders should exercise restraint and uphold the rule of law and conduct all activities with civility and in a non-violent manner in their public discourse.

The groups noted that the conduct of a peaceful, free, fair and transparent election is a prerequisite for democratic consolidation, sustainable peace and development in Liberia. “It is our fervent hope, therefore, that all stakeholders will remain productively committed to a historic and peaceful transition and that the collective will and aspirations of the Liberian people will not be compromised for individual ambitions,” the statement said.

Similarly, yesterday, a Joint Statement was issued by the European Union Delegation to Liberia and the Embassies of EU Member States present in Liberia (France, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom) on the issue.

The EU and its members joint statement said, “ As close partners of Liberia the European Union and its Member States have been and continue to follow the 2017 Presidential and House of Representative elections with high interest.”

Peace and security, together with democracy, good governance and human rights, are some of the shared values at the heart of the EU-Africa partnership. We congratulate both the Liberian people and Liberian political parties for the commitment they have shown to these values through the peaceful conduct of the electoral process so far, including through the use of the appropriate legal mechanisms to address any concerns.

“Over the past twelve years the European Union has worked closely with Liberia to support both post-conflict reconstruction and long term development.  We would like to stress the importance of a smooth democratic transition for Liberia’s stability and economic growth.  We therefore encourage all concerned to work constructively and in good faith to conclude the current complaints process without unnecessary delay, so that the electoral process can be completed in accordance with Constitutional timelines regarding the assumption of power by the next administration.

“The European Union is looking forward to continuing our cooperation with Liberia’s new President and new government.  The Liberian people demonstrated their commitment to democracy through the high turnout of voters on 10, October who cast their ballots in a peaceful atmosphere.  It is now the responsibility of all stakeholders to ensure that the electoral process continues in a manner which respects the will of the people, thereby putting Liberia’s interests first. We trust that this will continue to be the case.”        

Frankly, the concern of members of the international community, whether it is regional, world body or groups are genuine and germane  if this country should  experience a peaceful transition whether an elected President, either Amb. Joseph Boakai or Amb. George Weah or would be receiving the mantle of authority from President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf whose tenure would be ending next January in keeping with the Liberian Constitution.

In all fairness, all of the issues being highlighted by the International Community are to ensure that nothing is done to thwart the democratic process, or anything that would throw monkey’s wrench into the process.This country has achieved much in the nearly 12 years, and so it is imperative that we, as a people and nation, continue to build on those gains to move from backwaters to prosperity.

And that one of the ways to achieve this is through the democratic process, especially at this time as it relates to peaceful transition of leadership. Apart from the concerns of the international community, Liberians are equally concern for a peaceful transition, this is why Liberians turned out peacefully October 10.

While the rule of law or due process is necessary to resolve whatever grievances and complaints from the process, as filed by the Liberty Party   of Cllr. Charles Brumskine and others, at the same time these disputes should be handled expeditiously without unnecessary delay.

I join the EU and its members by urging “all concerned to work constructively and in good faith to conclude the current complaints process without unnecessary delay, so that the electoral process can be completed in accordance with Constitutional timelines regarding the assumption of power by the next administration.

Today, I am reinforcing the concerns of the AULOL, ECOWAS, UNMIL, EU and its members, for Liberians to pay heed. There is always this tendency of not taken such pieces of advice seriously until things get out of hands.

Sometimes it is recklessly said, “That’s the people’s thing.”Emphatically, let me say that this is not the people’s thing, but everybody’s thing. Therefore, everyone should be involved and those involved in these electoral disputes should avoid unnecessary delays, to put to shame “INTERIM GOVERNMENT EXPERTS.”

Hence, let us do everything to resolve these electoral disputes within the constitutional time frame for a smooth transition.

I Rest My Case.