Liberia's opposition political parties, demanding electoral and constitutional reforms are giving the responsibility to themselves to nominate managers or commissioners of the National Elections Commission together with civil society organizations.
The opposition attributed their demand to the administrative influenced exercised by presidency over the country's elections by nominating commissioners of the National Elections Commission (NEC).
According to them, for NEC to be more independent and free of interferences, political parties and civil society organizations should do the nomination, while the presidency appoints.
The disclosure was made Monday by Nathaniel McGill, Secretary General of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and Abraham Mitchell, Secretary General of the National Democratic Coalition (NDC).
Both men who appeared on the Truth FM Breakfast show in Monrovia, advanced further that both the political parties and civil society bodies should be in the business of consensus to nominate candidates to the presidency.
But Miller Catakaw, Assistant Secretary General of the governing Unity Party (UP) also on the show disagreed, saying the presidency should continue with the appointment of electoral managers (Commissioners), but in a moderate form and proper manner.
He said though the UP was in agreement in reforming the laws that were outdated, there was a need to be cautious with the process to avoid a clash with the Constitution of Liberia. Catakaw warned stakeholders to take into consideration how the National Elections Commission (NEC) guidelines were embedded in the electoral laws.
"Both UP and the oppositions are in the same boat on electoral and constitutional reforms, but there is a need to avoid constitutional implications, which has to do with timing on the road to 2017," Catakaw cautioned. Foraging ahead with their position, the opposition expressed qualms with the composition of the National Elections Commission.
"We do not want elections dispute like in 1985, 1997 and 2005 when the regulatory body (NEC) was not independent, but under the influence of the presidency because it does the appointment," CDC's McGill claimed.
He said the country's presidency has a huge influence within the Commission, and that such power needed to be reduced by law. The opposition also emphasized the need for a tribunal to handle post elections disputes before reaching the Supreme Court.
"NEC has both judicial and quart-side power. Therefore, to ensure transparency and accountability, there is a need to have an independent dispute court which will handle issues arising from post elections," NDC Abraham Mitchell also noted.
He said such court would work with the NEC's managers in adjudicating cases and if one is not satisfies; you may proceed to the Supreme Court. "We must reform this country before it reforms us as every law we make, is the subset of the constitution."
About the tenure of the presidency, the opposition political parties want a referendum before or in 2014 to settle the issues of reducing the tenure of the presidency and representatives from 6 to 4 years, as well as senator from 9 to 6 years respectively.
"The issue of individual serving for 6 or 9 years as president, representatives and senator respectively has been burning issue in our body politics that need to be resolve before 2017," McGill said.
UP's Catakaw said while they were in agreement with the process, the issue of determining where and how needed to be addressed. Fortnight ago, the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) started the campaign for both electoral and constitutional reform processes.
The CDC is being joined by others, including the National Democratic Coalition (NDC), National Union for Democratic Progress (NUDP), National Patriotic Party (NPP) and many more. Writes TKS.