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National Elections Commission (NEC) Chairman, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, has said the Commission is one of two bodies created by the Constitution of Liberia, guaranteeing their independence of the three branches of government in doing their work.

He was speaking when a visiting delegation from the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) in Abuja, Nigeria, who were on a 10-day study tour of Liberia, met with commissioners of the NEC at its headquarters in Sinkor.

Cllr. Korkoya informed his visitors that presidential election is mandated by the Constitution to be held every second Tuesday of October in the election year, adding, “This year’s election will be held on October 10.”

“Currently, we have 26 political parties in Liberia. If all of these parties put up presidential candidates plus the independent ones, we are going to have maybe 30 candidates vying for the post of president. However, we have been hearing from the news that some of these parties are forming collaborations, which we hope will reduce the number of candidates,” he explained.

He further disclosed that as the nomination process for candidates’ ends on July 21, campaigning will begin on July 31, according to a Foreign Ministry release issued in Monrovia.

Providing reasons why the NEC had added an additional 10 days for the nomination process, which should have ended on Tuesday, July 11, the NEC chair clarified that there are some new laws that the National Legislature recently passed; one of them has to do with the minimum number of candidates that each party can name.

“For example, the law requires that parties should put 50 percent representative candidates. Some parties are finding it very difficult to get that threshold and of course there are some financial obligations involved.

“Another provision in the new law has to do with gender balance. So, we want to encourage more women participants in the political process,” he noted, adding, “This is very serious from the perspective of the Commission.”

He observed that some political parties are also finding it difficult to meet this and because NEC wants to have an inclusive process, the Board of Commissioners has decided to extend the process by 10 days.

“Rather than ending the process on the July 11, we are going to be closing it on July 21,” he informed the visiting Nigerian delegation. On court proceedings, he told the visiting Nigerians that they (Commission) were getting ready to go to court because of their decision to reject the nomination papers of some of the candidates.

“You have probably heard that we are going to court. Some candidates have been rejected because we believe they didn’t comply with the Code of Conduct, which requires people with intent to participate in the process to resign within a given period. Those people who didn’t meet that requirement have been rejected and some of them have taken us to court,” he said.

Cllr. Korkoya thanked the Liberian Government for making good on its pledge of US$20 million towards the total US$45 million cost of the elections. He assured the visitors that the NEC is working around the clock to have all the major problems, including those omissions that weren’t on the voters roll updated, and solved before the Election Day. LINA

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