13 November 2017

Liberia: UP Goes Fishing At NEC?

The governing Unity Party or UP which joined the Liberty Party's cry for fraud and irregularities on the eve of a Supreme Court ruling into the LP's prayer for a prohibition against the November 7, 2017 runoff appears to have gone fishing for evidence at the National Elections Commission or NEC.

The prohibition, which is now enforce arises from a petition filed by the LP praying the superior court for a writ of prohibition on activities leading to the run-off, to enable the electoral body look into its complaint of allegations of fraud and irregularities in the October 10 elections.

The UP, which complaints were earlier turned down but accepted after the highest court decision to grant the LP its preemptory prohibition has requested that NEC among other things produce all documents from its 5390 polling centers, the final voters' register, all worksheets by the various magistrates and tally sheets, without pointing to a specific polling center, where it has evidence to prove there were fraud or irregularities.

At an appeal hearing on Friday November 10, 2017 before the NEC board of Commissioners, lawyers representing the UP-former Justice Minister Benedict Sannoh and Cllr. Lavali Supuwood argued that all the ballot boxes from the over 5000 polling stations be brought at the hearing before they can proceed further with their case.

But lawyers representing NEC headed by Cllr. Musa Dean countered argued that to request the electoral body to bring in the 5390 ballot boxes implies that the UP has no evidence and has come fishing for one.

The UP lawyers replied that even if they have no need of the ballot papers from the 5390 polling centers, as part of their request it is imperative that NEC grant it as such.

Previous magistrates who heard the initial case before the parties appearance at the board of commissioners had dismissed the UP's demand, insisting that the party be specific with their allegations by citing key areas where they have alleged fraud rather than asking for documents across the entire country.

The NEC board of commissioners, however, reserved ruling into the matter today. Whatever their decision is, it is not clear what the next move of the UP and LP will be as the public anxiously wait to go for the runoff.

Meanwhile, a conglomerate of civil society groups issued a statement here over the weekend condemning the leaders of both the LP and UP for employing delay tactics at the NEC hearings.

The group which consist of the Association of the Masses for Change (AMCHA), Movement for the Emancipation of Liberia (MOEL), Women Consortium for Democratic Transition (WCFDT), Association of Lofain Stakeholders for Democracy, Islam Youth Consortium for Justice in Liberia, North - Central Pastoral Network of Liberia said the current rigmarole between the NEC and the two political parties has brought some degree of uncertainties over the nation.

Below is an excerpt of the group's statement: "Fellow citizens... This is a defining moment in our country history. We cannot sit aside and look while our country is at the brink of asunder. We the ordinary people usually suffer when the politicians break things apart. From afar we can see cynical political arrangement and hypocritical endeavors to derail the peace and undermine our democracy.

Boakai and Brumskine political marriage is on record for saying they will do everything to abort a supposedly "evil child" from being born. This is problematic. We believe that this statement is not just scaring but it is also diabolical and diametrical to the democratic transition that we so wish to witness for the first time since 1944 (73 years ago). This clearly unveils their collective plan to delay the runoff election through a cynical political arrangement and manipulated judiciary systems that will lead the country into a constitutional crisis, a condition that will allow them argue for an interim government. This is rather the real situation that we must abort. The likes of Boakai and Brumskine must allow democracy to flourish. If we are to experience true democracy and genuine peace, the will of the people must forever remain supreme as we strive to build a true culture of democracy. We the people, our votes, must be the decider of who becomes president of Liberia.

We are also baffled by the deafening silence of the inter-religious council, Liberia council of churches and the women in peace building network. These groups were very instrumental in bringing to end the stalemate in the lower house of our National [egislature during the saga of former speaker Alex Tyler. Our mother especially played a pivotal role by begging the former speaker to step down in the name of peace. Why aren't they begging Cllr. Brumskine to abandon his action which is, by all indications, holding the entire country hostage?

Finally, consider this as a caveat that Liberians will accept nothing but a democratic transfer of power from one elected president to another elected president as required by our constitution, which is the supreme Law of the nation. Make no mistake; any extra-constitutional transfer of power will be resisted by the people in whose hands all power is inherent."

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