1 November 2017

Liberia: President Sirleaf Asked to Stay Above the Fray in Liberia's Election

Photo: Nick N. Seebeh/Liberian Observer
From left: ECOWAS Chairman and President of the Republic of Togo, Faure Gnassingbé; President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; and AU Chair and President of the Republic of Guinea, Alpha Condé, at the high table. The AU and ECOWAS are working to resolve the political impasse that has gripped the Liberian nation since the release of the results of the October 10 polls.

Monrovia — President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been asked by the Chairman of the ECOWAS and the Chairman of the African Union, Presidents Faure Gnassingbe and Alpha Conde, respectively not to get involved with the current electoral contention in the country.

The two African leaders flew to Monrovia Wednesday morning to mediate peace talk between the heads of political parties, the National Elections Commission, the Supreme Court and other stakeholders in the electoral process.

The meetings were held at Boulevard Palace in the capital.

Speaking through an interpreter at the end of the meetings, Guinean President Conte said, "We are concern about what happened during the aftermath of the elections in Liberia, we found it necessary that it was our duty to identify with our brothers and sisters in Liberia, listen to them, analyze the situation and also we consulted with the with the diplomatic corps, the election commission, the supreme court and the inter-religious council."

President Conte said from the discussions, all stakeholders involved in the electoral process acknowledged that there were irregularities.

President Conte: "Everybody is aware that there were some mishaps during the elections. The Elections Commission said there were some lapses, the Supreme Court also acknowledged that there were some irregularities, the diplomatic corps also said there were some irregularities as well as the inter-religious council. So we've asked the NEC to do all it can to solve these problems sot that all the lapses can be corrected. Since it's already a commission, let it remain a commission."

He said while the National Elections Commission has been urged to solve some of the irregularities that have been acknowledged, not all would be solved by the electoral body rather through constitutional reforms.

He said during they reminded the Supreme Court of its delicate responsibility during this electoral process and further urged political parties to address their contentions through the legal system.

President Conde: "Peace and tranquility are essentials in our country. Therefore, everybody is convinced that they have to take the legal trend and that they don't have any fish to fry inside it, they should only deal with the law. So we insisted on the responsibility of the Supreme Court. We also talked to our sister [President Sirleaf] that she should remain above the fray."

"We think they will resolve it as we are going back with assurance because all the parties, in spite of all their grievances, despite all their discontent they have all agreed to follow the law and support the Constitution of Liberia."

He thanked the presidential candidates for accepting to abide by the rule of law and allow the Supreme Court to play its role.

Meanwhile, at the opening of the program, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said she hopes that the various political contentions can be handled within the constitutional timeline.

"We will like to say to you Mr. President that we believe ECOWAS stands by the position that this democratic process must be concluded within the time frame of the constitution so that I may be able to retire and end this transition successfully," President Sirleaf said.

According to her, she excepts that political parties participating in the election will ensure that whatever decision they make during this electoral process would be in the best interest of the country.

Senators George Manneh Weah and Jewel Howard Taylor of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), Benoni Urey of the All Liberian Party (ALP), Cllr. Charles W. Brumskine of the Liberty Party and his chairman, Benjamin Sanvee, Vice President Joseph Boakai and the Unity Party chairman Wilmot Paye of the ruling Unity Party and Mr. Alexander Cummings and Jeremiah Sulunteh of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) are in the meeting with the two African leaders.

Speaking to journalists at the end of the meeting, Cllr. Brumskine described the meeting as a good day for Liberia, noting that the ECOWAS and AU have endorsed the Liberty Party's position.

"The ECOWAS, the AU have endorsed the position the Liberty Party has taken from day 1. Let's pursue the rule of law and the good will prevail over evil," he said.

Senator Weah told reporters some of his colleagues continue to make allegations regarding the elections which are not facts. He, however, noted that as politicians they have a common goal which is preserving the peace of Liberia so they all agreed to follow the legal process.

"We'll be talking to our people to wait for whatever was put before the court and then we'll continue from there," he said.

Weah finished first in the October 10 presidential elections, but failed to attain the constitutional requirement of 50 percent plus 1 vote.

Cummings insisted that October 10 elections were marred by irregularity and fraud, which prompted the ANC to join the Liberty Party in the legal fight against the results.

He said claiming that elections were rigged in 2005 and 2011 should not be a basis for paying blind eye to the alleged massive irregularities and fraud that have been discovered in the recent election.

It can be recalled that the Supreme Court of Liberia placed a stay order on the November 7 runoff election until the writ for prohibition prayed for by the Liberty Party is looked into by the full bench of the Supreme Court.

The Liberty Party filed the Writ of Prohibition on the November 7 runoff and called for a rerun of the October 10 elections, citing mass fraud and irregularities.

Cllr. Brumskine said the October 10 polls lacked all requirement to be declared as free, fair, transparent and credible election.

The ruling Unity Party, Liberty Party and the Alternative National Congress joined the Liberty Party's legal action on the election.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of Liberia Tuesday placed a stay order on the electoral process and subsequently ordered the National Elections Commission to refrain from proceeding with any and all activities connected with the November 7 runoff elections.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear the Liberty Party's petition for the Writ of Prohibition on Thursday.

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