28 February 2013

Liberia: NEC Gears Up for Grand Bassa County By-Election

The National Elections Commission (NEC) has mandated the Elections Magistrate of Grand Bassa County to conduct a senatorial By-Election to fill a vacant seat in the Liberian Senate. Magistrate David Logan received the commission Tuesday at ceremonies marking the issuance of a Writ of Elections held in the provincial city of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.

The issuance of the Writ comes against the milieu of a February 18 letter written to the Acting Chairman of the NEC, Cllr. Elizabeth Nelson, by the President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, Gbehzongar Findley, notifying the commission of the existence of a vacancy in the Senate necessitated by the death of Grand BassaCounty Senator John Francis Whitfield.

Senator Whitfield died on January 17, 2013.

The letter of notification to the NEC is in accordance with Article 37 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution which provides that: "In the event of a vacancy in the Legislature caused by death, resignation, and expulsion or otherwise, the presiding officer shall within 30 days notify the Elections Commission thereof. The Elections Commission shall not later than 90 days thereafter cause a by-election to be held.........."

Speaking at the ceremony, the Acting Chairman of the National Elections Commission, Cllr. Elizabeth J. Nelson revealed that the Commissioners of the National Elections Commission have reached a decision to organize and conduct a Senatorial By-Election in Grand Bassa County on Tuesday, May 7, 2013. "Pursuant to the decision of the Commissioners, the nomination period for candidates desirous of contesting the Senatorial By-Election will begin on March 11 and end on March 26, 2013," the NEC Boss noted.

She disclosed that aspirants of duly registered Political Parties and independent aspirants that are in good standing shall be nominated in accordance with the eligibility criteria. "The National Elections Commission in collaboration with its partners including IFES, UNDP, and UNMIL is making preparations for the By-Election and the Commission will remain engaged with registered Political Parties, Alliances and Coalitions, aspiring Independent Candidates and Civil Society Organizations to ensure a smooth and transparent electoral process," Cllr. Nelson noted.

The Issuance of the Writ of Elections is a requirement of Section 4.3 (2) of the New Elections Law of 1986 and directs the Elections Magistrate of Grand Bassa County to proceed with the conduct of a Senatorial By-Election to fill the vacant seat in the Liberian Senate for the county.

The ceremony was conducted simultaneously with the release of the Timetable and Regulationsfor By-Elections. Grand Bassa County has a total of5 Electoral Districts; 124,280 registered voters; 176 voting precincts and 336 polling places.

According to the timetable of the By-Election, the replacement of lost or damaged Voters ID cards will run from March 25-April 5 while the final list of qualified candidates will be published on April 12. The period for political campaigning runs from April 12 to May 5 and the final results of the election will be announced on May 10, 2013.

All activities related to the conduct of the Senatorial By-Election of Grand Bassa County will be held in the county in line with the decentralization policy of the National Elections Commission as was done during the conduct of the Representative By-Elections in Electoral District #3, Sinoe County and Electoral District #11 Montserrado County.

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