8 August 2017

Liberia: Supreme Court Gets More Lashes

The Supreme Court of Liberia continues to receive litany of whippings since it ruled against the Code of Conduct in favor of Messrs Harrison Karnwea of the Liberty Party and Jeremiah Sulunteh of the Alternative National Congress who took exception to the National Elections Commission's (NEC) decision to reject them for not resigning their posts as enshrined in the CoC.

The University of Liberia Students Union (ULSU) is the latest entity to speak strongly against the Supreme Court's ruling, wondering why the highest court of the land decided to act the way it acted over the CoC ahead of the crucial pending presidential and legislative elections. Jerome D. Bernard, President of ULSU, said it was unclear why the Court qualified those they called violators of the CoC.

Unmatched public criticism recently marred the clearing of Harrison Karnwea, running mate to Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine of the Liberty Party and Jeremiah Sulunteh, running mate to Alexander Cummings of the Alternative National Congress and others to contest the impending elections when it was visually cleared that they were in violation of the CoC.

Prior to the ruling that rendered the COC invertebrate, the Supreme Court declared it a legal instrument after a complaint of scrutiny was filed by Serena Mappy-Polson, Superintendent of Bong County over its legality.

According to Bernard, to allow contestants to contest despite resigning less than two years undercut the very basis for which the code of conduct was enacted into law.

Section 5.1 and 5.2 of the National Code of Conduct clearly stipulates the standards that must be followed by appointed officials of the Government of Liberia regarding their desires to participate in elections conducted by the Republic, standards previously regarded by the Supreme Court as legal. Bernard indicated that the Supreme Court should be aware that there is no provision in the laws for a middle ground between eligibility and ineligibility and between violation and disqualification.

"If the Supreme Court is saying that a half-way compliance with the laws as indicated in Karnwea vs NEC is not egregious enough to warrant denying a Liberian a participation in an election, what then would the court say?" Bernard questioned.

The largest student grouping reminded the Supreme Court of its previous endorsement of the law as legal in which it vowed to ensure its applications.

"Laws are not made to appease everyone at the same time. But when a statue is interpreted, the first and most important rule is the dealing with the statue must follow the statue's plain language," he said.

ULSU said when a legal opinion becomes hermaphrodite as in the case of the Supreme Court ruling, it creates a room for a conflict. "Those who become victims of the law might lose confidence in the court thereby resorting to violence or noncompliance activities intended to undermine the legitimacy of the system," he added.

Meanwhile, ULSU said it wouldn't endorse any candidate because as a responsible student government, it will organize a debate among presidential candidates as a means to sell their platforms to the students of the University of Liberia.


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