13 August 2014

Liberia: Senate Reviews Special Election Postponement

Plenary of the Liberian Senate is reviewing the possibility of postponing the Special Senatorial Election to December 2014 due to the outbreak of the uncontrollable disease.

The Senate's review of the postponement came as a result of a communication sent by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf through the Chairman of the National Election Commission.

The President, in her communication to the Liberian Senate, expressed the impossibility for the election to be conducted in the country.

She mentioned that there is serious restriction on movement and the gathering of people something that impedes the electoral process in the country.

The communication furthered that the National Elections Commission will not be effectively able to have its entire staff trained for the process.

The Plenary, through a unanimous vote, has reviewed the postponement but has sent the communication and their previous concerns to the Committees on Judiciary, Claims, Petitions and Elections to further advise Plenary on Thursday, August 14, 2014. Senator Abel Massaley of Grand Cape Mount County told his colleagues that the holding of the election is bordered on a constitutional provision, and as such, the Liberian Senate needs a declaratory judgment on the postponement of the special senatorial election.

Sinoe County Senator, Mobutu V. Nyepan mentioned that Plenary of the Liberian Senate needs the legal interpretation about the postponement of the special senatorial election.

He indicated that Senate needs to know as to whether the power to postpone the special senatorial election will come from the executive, legislature or the judiciary

The Chairman of the Commission, Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya, said the NEC may be unable to deploy staff in the field to conduct Civic/Voter Education as well as recruit and deploy 25,000 polling staff at polling centers in Liberia.

Chairman Korkoya said the Commission's recommendation is also based on the fact that the Ebola outbreak would hinder the smooth conduct of campaign activities by candidates who are desirous of contesting the October 14, 2014 Special Senatorial Election.

He said the health emergency in Liberia may affect the conduct of free, fair, transparent and credible election on October 14, 2014. The NEC Chairman made the recommendation Wednesday at a meeting with political parties and individuals whose names were recently published on the provisional list of candidates for the Election.

The Commission recommended that the election be postponed to the first week in December, 2014. In response, attendees of the meeting however noted that due to the constitutional nature of the Special Senatorial Election, the Commission should take the appropriate steps to ensure that such recommended postponement is done in line with the laws of Liberia.

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