February 28, 2024

US Embassy distances itself from MOFA request to NEC

The United States Embassy in Monrovia has issued a statement distancing itself from media reports that issued a diplomatic note to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting the specimen of the Biometric Voter ID Card for the 2023 elections.

The bassy wrote in a press statement: “At no points in time did the Embassy send the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia an official Diplomatic Note, or any other communication, with the request to acquire a sample or specimen of the 2023 national voter registration card. 

The release quoted the Embassy as saying “We understand that no decision has yet been made on awarding a contract for the biometric system, but that the process is ongoing and, according to the press, the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC) is examining potential contracts.”

The Embassy is at the same time urging the PPCC to fulfill its mandate of ensuring integrity and Transparency in the procurement process so that the Liberian public gets full value for money in the use of public Funds.
The United States and Liberia share Democratic values, including the commitment to free, fair, and Transparent elections in the country.
The release also stated that the US mission is to work closely with partners in the government and in civil society focusing on next year’s important national elections and we emphasize the necessity of non-violence and Transparency in diplomatic society.

In the midst of the denial by the Embassy, the National Elections Commission confirmed that it received the communication from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting a specimen based on the U.S. Embassy’s request.

The communication dated August 1, 2022, instructed the NEC to submit specimens based on the U.S. request.

Madam Chairperson:

I present my compliments and wish to inform you that the Ministry has received a Diplomatic Note from the Embassy of the United States of America near Monrovia requesting a specimen of the national voter registration card.

The Ministry looks forward to your kind response to the said request in order to revert to the Embassy in a timely manner.

With kind regards.

Sincerely,

Thelma E. Duncan Sawyer (Mrs.)

Acting Minister

This platform has not been able to establish whether the specimen has been provided as requested.

When contacted officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not confirm nor deny the communication as they inform Reports 231 that Deputy Minister Sawyer who signed the letter in her capacity as acting minister is currently out of the country.

However, it was confirmed that the acting Deputy Minister was in the country at the time the letter was written but the motive behind why such a communication would be doctored in the name of the U.S. Embassy is not yet clear. However, there are a series of concerns that whoever is behind the plan could have a bigger plan of duplicating the cards.

There have also been general concerns in the public about the preparedness of the NEC to introduce Biometric Voter ID Cards when the NEC is in the constant habit of making unnecessary errors including the misspelling of voters’ names, voters can not find their names on voters roll on the day of elections at a particular polling place they register, something voters described as an unfortunate situation and incompetent, the lack of awareness amongst other; with less than 13 months left for the 2023 general and presidential elections in Liberia.

Following the announcement of the BVR by the NEC, the House of Representatives, acquiescing to Rep. Rustonlyn Suacoco Dennis’ request, summoned the Election House before its full Plenary to explain more about the biometric registration process.

Following an hour-long grilling, the House, apparently not convinced with Madam Lansanah and her deputy’s explanation, mandated its Committee on Elections & Inauguration and Contracts & Monopoly to further review the NEC’s decision and advice the body.

Pending the Joint Committee’s report, according to Legislative reporters assigned at the Capitol buil

Photo credit: U. S.Embassy

About Author