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Criticism of Liberia’s biometric voter registration contract rumored to irk Chinese embassy

Criticism of Liberia’s biometric voter registration contract rumored to irk Chinese embassy

The latest twist in an ongoing saga over the contract to support Liberia’s biometric voter registry is a complaint from China that the country is being unfairly maligned in criticism of the tender to Ekemp, FrontPageAfrica reports.

The National Election Commission selected a bid by Ekemp and its partners in a round of bidding that the country’s procurement oversight body now says must be re-run.

The Chinese Embassy in Monrovia is unhappy that some Liberians, particularly in positions of authority, are criticizing Ekemp but not biometrics providers based elsewhere on grounds of data security, an unnamed source told FPA.

Suggestions that the China-based company’s role could undermine the security of voters’ data could cause a diplomatic row, the source said. Further, China’s substantial support for Liberian development could be undermined.

The rejection of a request to approve the contract was based at least in part on a lack of required documentation, according to the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC).

The report refers to rumors that a former NEC employee is spreading falsehoods about Ekemp or its bid, possibly in an attempt to benefit another bidder, though no evidence for this claim is cited.

The Liberian People’s Party, one of many smaller political parties in the country, told the NEC in a letter dated September 22 that the biometric voter registration system should not be used at all in next year’s elections, according to the Liberian Observer.

“The LPP is of the view that in order to introduce a biometric system in our electoral process, adequate preparations have to be made, which entail the training of the NEC technicians and a massive awareness campaign among the citizenry about this new technology,” wrote LPP’s Vice Chairperson for Administration George B. Caine.

The LPP says that the House of Representatives Committee on Elections and Inauguration has also expressed skepticism at the country’s readiness to adopt the biometric system.

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