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Liberia: Reactions to the Resignation of Liberian Elections Chairman

Following questions about his credibility, James Fromayan, the former head of the  Liberian Elections Commission, resigned yesterday citing national interest above self interest as his reason.

African Election Project reports that he resigned because of “Letter-gate”:

The Liberia National Elections Commission (NEC) Chairman, James Fromayan has resigned his post, Sunday, 30th October 2011 following a communication blunder the commission carried out when it served a letter of notification to the two leading political candidates; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of the Unity Party (UP) and Winston Tubman of Congress for Democratic Change (CDC).

The blunder which has widely been referred to as the “Letter-gate”, emerged in the aftermath of a letter sent to the vice standard bearer of the CDC, George Manneh Weah signed by Fromayan reading: “The total number of votes tallied for the Unity Party(UP) presidential and vice presidential candidates was 194,370 or 32.7 percent of the valid votes cast. You received the highest vote total among the 16 candidates thus qualifying you to participate in the run-off election on November 8.”

Bobby Livingston, the commission’s director of communications, who prepared the letter has been dismissed.

L-R: Former Director of Communication Bobby Livingston and former Chairman James Fromayan. Photo courtesy of www.theliberianjournal.com

L-R: Former Director of Communication Bobby Livingston and former Chairman James Fromayan. Photo courtesy of www.theliberianjournal.com

The former National Elections Commission chairman has been accused continuously by the opposition led by the Congress for Democratic Change for being a staunch supporter of the ruling party:

 

…the opposition Congress for Democratic Change persistently accused the election commission of tampering with ballots to favor Nobel Peace Prize Laureate President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and her Unity Party and that the result did not reflect the true aspirations of votes cast.

The party insisted among other things, the head of the National Election Commission, James Fromoyan step down or be removed and the commission reshuffled to restore credibility, integrity, and trust, imperative ingredients necessary for both parties to participate in a run-off in which they are confident in the integrity of the commission to administer the run-off of next Tuesday with independence and transparency.

In the wake of his resignation, he emphatically said that his decision to bow out was based solely upon the conviction for a peaceful transition against chaotic  transition.

In his letter of resignation, Mr. Fromoyan said “I want to emphasize that the decision I make today is in the supreme interest of Liberians and not a capitulation of these demands. It is my hope therefore that with my departure from the commission, there will be no further obstacle or pre-condition for the participation in the November presidential run-off election.”

The Liberian electoral process thus far has been declared free and transparent by numerous credible entities ranging  from the UN, ECOWAS, AU, the Carter Center, EU and many more local accredited civil groups. Despite that, the oppositions led by the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) continuously threatened to boycott the November 8th,2011 Runoff elections.

In response to Mr.Fromoyan's resignation, the Congress for Democratic Change leadership had this to say:

The opposition Congress for Democratic Change(CDC) says it welcomes the resignation of Mr. James Fromayan from the position of Chairman of the National Elections Commission(NEC) but is still maintaining a set of conditions it says needs to be put in place before it fully participates in the process.

Addressing a major news conference at the party’s headquarters in Congotown Monday, Winston Tubman, the party’s standard bearer said: “The official position of the CDC remains that we are committed to moving forward and that we will participate in the runoff elections when all of the additional checks and balance mechanisms are put in place.

President Sirleaf supporters at Samuel K. Doe stadium. Photo courtesy of www.stolenyearstocome.blogspot.com

President Sirleaf supporters at Samuel K. Doe stadium. Photo courtesy of www.stolenyearstocome.blogspot.com

Has the former chairman of the commission fled the country? Well, according to Move 2 Monrovia, the elections campaigns have been accompanied by “frequent, fantastical tales and apocryphal episodes”:

Monrovia is so unique in many ways, one of which has been particularly pronounced this fall: constant waves of rumor and intrigue. America may have its cable chattering classes and plugged-in pundits, but this town is all tongue-wagging and tale-trading, which can give legs to some incredulous whoppers.

Since the start of the campaign season, the Monrovia rumor mill has been churning out such frequent, fantastical tales and apocryphal episodes that this town makes a rural boarding school look like a scientific review board.

A member of Liberia Elections 2011 Media Monitoring Group says that the former chairman has fled the country:

A day after the one whose Flomoyan intervention gave the presidency said she will not change the captain in the middle of the game , James Flomoyan has disgracefully resigned, apologized for his actions of manipulating the results in favor of UP and fled the country for Ghana. He has joined his family who settled in Airport Residence, Ghana since March of 2011.

In the same thread, Paul Newon disputes the story:

@Gusta… “James Flomoyan has disgracefully resigned, apologized for his actions of manipulating the results in favor of UP and fled the country for Ghana” is a lie… stop spreading lies.. thanks…

Mardea E. Martin-Wiles expresses her gratitude for Fromayan's work:

No matter what some Liberians may say about the former elections chairman, I still say, thank you. Your work will forever be appreciated and you have made history. I respect you then and will always. My hats off to you.

Should the former Director of Communication be reinstated? Henson King asks:

Now that Flomoyan has owned up and is gone because of “PEACE”, should Bobby Livingstone be reinstated at the NEC?

Abdullah Fahnbulleh answers:

The answer is no absolutely, Mr. Livingston needs to go to court and explain himself and prove himself innocent if only if he is. Because even the letter in question can be written by even good nine grade student in this Republic. I think the whole thing was a betrayer of trust, which someone like Mr. Livingston needs to explain to the Liberian people better

The 2011 Liberian general election was held on 11 October, 2011. The presidential runoff will be held on 8 November. President Sirleaf who received 44% of the votes in the October elections will face Winston Tubman who got 32.2%.

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