31 October 2017

Liberia: George Weah Sounds Caveat - Supreme Court Decides Prohibition On Nov. 7 Runoff

Photo: Boakai Fofana/AllAfrica
Police patrolled the streets ahead of the announcement of election results.

Monrovia — The fate of Liberia's peace now rests in the hands of the justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia, Senator George Weah, standard bearer of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has warned.

Speaking in the rotunda of the Capitol on Monday, Senator Weah said urged the Supreme Court of Liberia and Liberia's international partners to pay keen attention to the electoral process and ensure that the will of Liberians in the majority prevail.

"We would like to say that the peace and stability of this country lie in the hands of the Honorable Supreme Court."

"The Liberian people are watching, the voice of the people is the voice of God and the will of the people must be respected," he asserted.

According to Senator Weah, having been in politics over the past 12 years, he understands the position and has felt the way the Standard Bearer of the ruling Unity Party, Vice President Joseph Boakai feels, for which he is joining the Liberty Party to call for a rerun of the October 10 elections.

He, however, noted that for the love of the country, he allowed peace and stability to supersede his quest for state power, despite being convinced that the both 2005 and 2011 elections were not credible.

"I've played my part, I've allowed the national government of Madam Sirleaf and the beneficiary Joseph Boakai to have stability to show their work," he said.

He called on members of the CDC to remain peaceful as they go about with their campaign activities but at the same time called on the Liberia National Police to provide protection for his supporters while they campaign.

He said member of the CDC should not be distracted by the quest for a rerun of the election, noting "they're complaining but they are also campaigning."

Senator Weah's comments were ignited by the prayer for a writ of probation on the November 7 runoff election filed by Liberty Party. The ruling Unity Party on Sunday announced their solidarity for the Liberty Party's legal quest.

The Liberty Party's call for a Writ of Prohibition was prompted by series of allegations of electoral fraud and irregularities that they claimed marred the October 10 elections.

Meanwhile, Supreme Court Justice-In-Chamber, Justice Kabineh Ja'neh could neither deny or issue a Writ of Prohibition prayed for by opposition political party Liberty Party (LP) for the National Elections Commission (NEC) to halt the run-off Presidential elections on November 7, 2017 due to an alleged claim from the party of irregularities and fraud discovered in the just-ended October 10th Presidential Legislative Elections.

Justice Ja'neh said this in his ruling made on Monday, October 30, 2017 after conducting hearings into the petition filed to the high court by the party, which took the third place from the October polls earning 149, 495 votes representing 9.6% out of the over 2m registered voters across the 15 counties.

"Let me make it clear that I cannot issue an alternative writ of prohibition in this matter because it is purely a constitutional matter; what I will do is to forward it to the full bench of the Supreme Court that will reach a decision whether to issue the alternative writ or not," said Justice Ja'neh who told the parties that they will be hearing from him by Tuesday, October 31, 2017.

At the hearing for the writ of prohibition, Liberty Party lead lawyer Cllr. Hilton Powo, who was the first to take the stand, stated that they have prayed the court through a petition so that the court could stop NEC from proceeding with the run-off Presidential until the elections body can investigate the party's complaint of allegedly violating the Constitution and Election Law, fraudulent acts and gross irregularities from the October polls.

Cllr. Powo argued that NEC boss Cllr. Jerome Korkoyah has already issued a press statement that election materials for the run-off elections will be brought in the country by Saturday and that the move by NEC to hold the elections without addressing the party's concern could means that after the election is held their complaint could be ineffective.

"Your honor the issues of fraud, breach of the Constitution and Elections Laws and irregularities must be addressed first before run-off elections," said Cllr. Powo, who argued that the election laws required that when the election is held any candidate with complaint must filed that complaint to NEC within seven days and NEC has 30-days to investigate that matter and make determination as enshrined in Article 83 of the Constitution.

The National Elections Commission's (NEC) lawyer, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean in resisting, Cllr. Powo stated that NEC has the Constitutional mandate to conduct elections within the framework set in the Constitution that is 15 days after the announcement of final results this is why NEC is proceeding to hold the run-off elections on November 7, 2017

When Cllr. Dean was questioned by Associate Justice Ja'neh about holding the election on November 7 when NEC has announced the elections result on October 19, 2017 he stated that NEC was working within the timeline of the Constitution.

However, several legal practitioners who spoke to this paper on the basis of anonymity after Monday hearings predicted that the transfer of the case to the full bench to have the matter adjudicated will cause some delay to the holding of the November 7 elections, which is to be contested by two candidates, Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP) and Senator George Weah of the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).

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