Trucking and Busing: Undermine Free Government in Liberia

first_imgSince the inception of the voter registration exercise on February 1, 2017, there have been multiple complaints from applicants attending the process ranging from inadequate logistics, defective cameras; complaints of insufficient voter registration centers (VRCs) thereby causing potentials registrants to walk long distances to register; attempts by non-Liberians to register; busing and trucking of people from one district or county to another; incompetent registration personnel and poor contractual arrangements with registration workers; absence of security officers (LNP & BIN) at VRCs; alleged tribal and religious discrimination against certain applicants, etc.As a former chair of the National Elections Commission (NEC), who presided over the 2005 general elections, the above-listed complaints and/or issues raised are not strange to me, as we were similarly confronted with nearly all of them. The difference, however, between the 2005 process and the current process is in the handling and resolution of the misunderstanding or concerns. Considering that the nature of elections is adversarial and extremely competitive, the commission must exert every effort to address concerns of participants in a timely manner and in accordance with the relevant guidelines, regulations and laws. Election staff must apply the rules and laws neutrally in order to avoid the imputation of corrupt motives to them. The allegation of tribal and religious bias, for instance could have been obviated by posting at each VRC the criteria for eligibility to register. Beyond all the issues and concerns raised, however, the phenomenon which is of paramount concern to me is the trucking and busing of people from one locality to another which I called “contract voters”. This practice is becoming or has become a part of the Liberian electoral culture. The practice does not only distort true democratic elections, the essence of which is the expression of the free will of the electorate in choosing their leaders, but the practice also constrains an impoverished and vulnerable people to surrender their free will to the richest or wealthiest politicians in exchange of a bag of rice, US$5.00, US$10.00 or US$20.00. Thus, the realization of the promise contained in Article I of the Liberian Constitution which states, inter alia, ‘All free governments are instituted by their authority and for their benefit and they have the right to alter and reform the same when their safety and happiness so require,” shall remain a mirage for a long time to come, because there can be no free government without a free people.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Younquoi Finally Wins in Nimba District #8

first_imgNimba County District #8 Rep. Larry YounquoiIncumbent Representative of Nimba County District 8, Larry P. Younquoi has been declared the winner in the October 10 legislative election of that district.Representative Younquoi’s victory follows a recount of the vote after his main rival, businessman turned politician, Saye Miannah, was announced by authorities of the National Election Commission (NEC) as a winner earlier.Mr. Miannah in previous counting won with 19 votes more than the incumbent, but the result was challenged by Representative Younquoi for recount.The recount that took place in Saclepea on Saturday, November 4, gave Representative Younquoi 6,191 votes leading Mr. Miannah who obtained 6,174 votes; a difference of 17 votes.According to some insiders in the counting booths, Larry’s defeat as announced in the initial counting came as a result of considering some votes invalid when they were actually not.Some voters wrote the name of the candidate of their choice in the marking box, instead of using the voting signs, but poll workers considered it as invalid, which went against the incumbent lawmaker.The first round of voting gave Saye Miannah a 19 vote lead over Younquoi.Having rectified the error in the recounting not only for Younquoi, but for the rest of the candidates, the incumbent finally triumphed over his closest rival, Miannah, with 17 votes, making him the winner.Representative Younquoi’s re-election defeat attributed to him earlier had received mixed reactions.The announcement of his defeat stirred up opinions that he is very boastful and presents himself as the only educated person from the district, if not from the county in the Legislature.Others accused Younquoi of being egocentric (selfish, self-centered) to the extent that he does not help his own relatives except his biological children.Others also said during the first term of his leadership, Representative Younquoi did not advocate on their behalf to reopen their roads. That situation reportedly led most of them in the district to register in another district to vote.Those that admire Younquoi, on the other hand, said if he were defeated in the race, it would have been a great loss not only for Nimba County, but for the country, because his performance over the years classifies him as one of the  best lawmakers.Some journalists critiquing Younquoi recently said Nimba was making a grave mistake to get him out, emphasizing that it clearly manifested Nimbaians’ resolve not to get rid of competent lawmakers.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more