Liberian Election Chief Resigns, Urges Opposition to Take Part in Runoff
October 31, 2011
The former chairman of Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) says he hopes his resignation will encourage the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) to participate in the November 8th runoff election.
James Fromayan resigned Sunday amid accusations he was biased in favor of incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and after an NEC letter, which he signed, stated the CDC received the highest vote total instead of the ruling Unity Party.
Fromayan says the letter was the work of a “paid CDC agent” within the elections commission.
“I did sign the letter. The paid agent [who serves] on the commission [was responsible for] the letter. But, that is so inconsequential because the CDC knows that I gave the results of the election on Tuesday of last week. They did not take the lead. It’s clear; the records are there. But, the point here is that I’m saying I’m out of the picture. They [CDC] should have no excuse. Let them go and confront the Liberian people,” Fromayan said.
Fromayan identified the “paid agent” within the commission as communications chief Bobby Livingstone, who was dismissed last week soon after the letter surfaced. His deputy, Nathan Mulbah, was suspended.
Fromayan says Livingstone intentionally swapped results for the ruling Unity Party with those of the CDC.
“This particular agent brought the letter. In fact, he wanted me to read it live on radio when I was reading the results on Tuesday, the 25th of October where he had the results swapped. He had put the UP (Unity Party) results to CDC [and the] UP results to CDC. I saw it, and it was Mr. Bobby Livingstone who brought it [up] and was insisting that I read [it] while I was giving my press briefing giving the results,” Fromayan said.
In a ruling, the NEC Board of Commissioners reportedly said Livingstone and Mulbah drafted the letter and failed to correct what the board called an “inadvertent error” after it was detected.
“Instead, they bypassed the system and inserted the documents in question among several documents that were presented to the chairman for signature,” the NEC Board reportedly said.
The former elections chief said, after he confronted Livingstone about the alleged swapping of the results, Livingstone brought a corrected version of the letter the following day which he [Fromayan] signed believing that the necessary correction had been made.
“Where I sit, I have volumes of documents coming before me. So, I will not deny that signature, but what I am saying is that did not warrant anything. There was nothing wrong in terms of changing results; we didn’t alter any figure because the results, what the people (parties) earned is public record,” Fromayan said.
Fromayan said he did not violate any Liberian law to warrant his resignation.
“But, as we approach the runoff election, the Congress for Democratic Change has made my resignation as a precondition for their participation in the electoral process. So, since they feel that I am the problem, then I say fine, let me step down so that Mr. Tubman [CDC presidential candidate] and his people can join the runoff election,” he said.
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