– Stephen Byron Tarr, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: FrontPage Africa
An Open Letter To The International Contact Group On Liberia
Recently, local newspapers reported the baseless prediction, allegedly by the chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), that 2.9 million of Liberia’s 2008 population of 3.5 million (82%) will vote n the 2011 general and presidential elections. Granted, with the population growing at the unhealthy 2.8% rate annually, the 2011population will far exceed 3.5 million. [A 2.8% annual growth rate is unhealthy because at that growth rate, the population will double in fewer than forty years. Given the unemployment rate at present, Liberians are unlikely to make poverty history under those conditions. But then perhaps I am wrong, since the Government’s statistician told the Cabinet Retreat in Buchanan that only 3% of the population is unemployed.] Be that as it may, since publication of Chairman Fromayan’s prediction that 82% of the 2008 population would be eligible to vote, neither the Commission nor Mr. Fromayan has denied it.
A PAGE FROM IVORY COAST
“That the NEC and its financial and technical backers (members of the International Contact Group on Liberia (ICGL) seem oblivious to the chairman’s alleged prediction of voter participation that contradicts the demographics of Liberia. Is the ICGL aware of what is happening in La Cote d’Ivoire?”
The NEC has also, in contravention of the Constitution as revealed by a number of persons, stipulated that voters registration will be conducted before constituencies are demarcated, although one can only vote where registered and a registrant would not know where s/he will vote at registration under the NEC scheme.
Fromayan’s prediction and the Commission’s refusal to ensure the rule of law, each act by itself or combined, fuel rumors that plans may exist to import voters from Guinea, La Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone as the demographics revealed by even the flawed census results contradict that 82% of the population would be 18 years of age and above. Voters not registered in the constituency in which they then wish to vote would be disqualified, and persons imported from the neighboring countries would then make up what would otherwise be the shortfall in number of projected voters.
Which voters registered willy-nilly, that is, before constituencies have been demarcated, would be disenfranchised? Those voters most likely to be denied the right to vote, because they are not registered to vote in their chosen constituency, are likely to be persons desiring to vote for opposition parties. The conclusion is logical, given several reasons, not excluding the fact that all members of the Commission are nominated by the flag bearer of a contesting party. That the NEC and its financial and technical backers (members of the International Contact Group on Liberia (ICGL) seem oblivious to the chairman’s alleged prediction of voter participation that contradicts the demographics of Liberia. Is the ICGL aware of what is happening in La Cote d’Ivoire?
Given the fragility of the peace, this letter appeals to the National Elections Commission and especially the ICGL to recognize that the projection that 82% of 3.5 million Liberians will vote in the 2011 elections and that constituency demarcation will follow, not precede, voters registration smell like a plan by the NEC to worsen the fragility of the peace the ICGL brokered and has financed.
The rest of this letter documents the contentions stated above, and are offered in the hope that the ICGL will, if only in this case and no other, choose to proactively intervene to arrest the speeding resumption of political activities rooted in acute centralization of power in the president, entrenchment of rent seeking bureaucracy, the growth of poverty, growing inequity in income and wealth distribution and shrinking equality of access to opportunities, over its traditional modus operandus of intervening after conflict has begun. The rest of this letter documents my contentions.
Flawed Census: this conclusion is logical, given that its findings were rejected by the Legislature. The Threshold Bill the Legislature and the Executive departments of government negotiated is the evidence and explains what we mean when we say the 2008 census was flawed.
Liberian demographics: To vote in Liberia, a citizen must be 18 years or older. The census did not find or project 82% of the population to have been or will be 18 years or older by the time of the 2011 elections.
All efforts need be made to prevent the recurrence here of the situation in the Ivory Coast. That situation has been fomented by the role of ruling party loyalists on the “Independent” Electoral Commissions.
Stephen Byron Tarr,