Model Responds to ECOM's Allegation Of Usurpation

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

December 17, 2002

December 10, 2002

Mr. Paul Guah
Elections Commission
Sinkor, Monrovia

Dear Mr. Guah:

We wish to extend our compliments and acknowledge receipt of your 3 December 2002 communication expressing concern over our recent press statement bordering on ECOM'S dismissal of Elections Magistrate George Kabakollie.

We also acknowledge assertions made in said letter about what you called our "pre-elections activities regarding the 2003 elections without the knowledge, consent and approval of your Commission" and branding our operations as "unlawful, illegitimate and a usurpation of the Commission's function" which you also stated "require clarification to the Commission as the clandestine nature of such activities with no notice to the Commission could undermine the Commission's efforts in holding free, fair, open and transparent and credible elections."

Accordingly, we would like to clarify in clear and emphatic terms that:

1. MODEL is a duly accredited and certified non-partisan, non-governmental and nonprofit pro-democracy organization operating openly and lawfully in the Republic, inter alia, and inculcating civic education into the citizenry and advocating electoral reforms and human rights in the country.

2. MODEL, having derived its just legitimacy in the laws of Liberia as an independent and legal entity is neither answerable to the Elections Commission nor need the consent, will and pleasure of ECOM to carry on its law-abiding programs and activities.

3. MODEL's electoral and civic education activities in the country are unequivocally sanctioned, blessed and guaranteed by the Constitution of Liberia which unambiguously provides for free assembly, free speech and the right to receive and impart knowledge and information. (Read Article 15 Sections a, b, c, & d of the Constitution). ECOM has no jurisdiction over the exercise of these organic provisions.

4. Our response to the Constitutionally-solicited duty to impart knowledge and information, as evidenced by our myriad Democracy Civic Education Forums around the country has significantly helped to mitigate the ripple effects of the chronic and pervasive civic unconsciousness and ignorance which unscrupulous individuals invariably feed on and exploit. We therefore diametrically reject your claims that our activities have the tendency to undermine the Commissioners efforts to conduct credible elections.

5. The description of our activities as "clandestine" absolutely raises the question or doubt whether you are really in tune with developments on the ground or whether you are wanting on the syntax and meaning of the word; for the word clandestine" is not and should not be applicable in the case of our well-publicized activities which are always conducted in public places around the country with the participation and acquiescence of local officials of Government including high profile representatives of your Commission.

6. For the record, please be informed of the following:

The facilitation of sessions of our various workshops by the named ECOM personnel was useful in enlightening hundreds of participants, specifically on the role and responsibilities of the Commission.

7. Consistent with our tradition, George Kabakollie, then ECOM's Montserrado County Magistrate, as well as Rivercess Elections Magistrate, was expected to serve as facilitators at our aborted civic education workshop in Cestos City, Rivercess County, August 2-3, 2002.

Mr. Kabakollie was never employed by MODEL but simply requested to facilitate a workshop session as done in previous cases by Dr. Seo, Mr. Doeyan, Mr. Jabbah and other ECOM officials.

We still therefore maintain that Mr. Kabakollie was a victim of an arbitrary and illegal action, which questions the credibility of the Commission.

8. MODEL opines that your December 3, 2002 letter, as well as the Commission's press release which not only brands our activities as "clandestine", unlawful and illegitimate but also citing us to your offices to provide clarification, is equivalent to harassment and intimidation and a raw affront and disincentive to Liberia's democratization process.

9. It is appalling, interesting and ironical that the Elections Commission which should encourage and support efforts aimed at ensuring enlightened electorate would subvert such efforts unremorsefully as if it is the pleasure of the Commission to conduct elections in an environment fraught with civic unconsciousness and ignorance.

10. MODEL hopes that the Election Commission which is incessantly embattled and challenged by criticisms and doubts from many quarters about its mediocrity, effectiveness and neutrality would desist from making pronouncements and engaging into acts that would confirm those criticisms and doubts and ruin its tattered credibility and reliability.

Instead of battling venerable pro-democracy organizations that are helping to sustain democracy in the country, ECOM must rather be preoccupied with rehabilitating its widely disputed credibility, a preoccupation that attract public confidence and international support that will make it relevant and effective in its works.

11. We hope the aforementioned clarifications and responses which you request will help enhance your operations and improve the Commission's relationship of other democratic stakeholders like MODEL.

Thank you for you understanding.

Kind regards,

Sincerely yours,

K-Hasting Panyonnoh, I
Executive Director

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