Plenary yesterday told CDC that the House was not a courthouse to investigate matters regarding whether a political party fulfilled the stipulations to participate in an elections process as mandated by the National Elections Commission (NEC), and as such, if the party so desired, it should pursue the matter through the legal process.
In a crushing blow to CDC’s bid to contest in the Montserrado County Electoral District # 11 Representative By-elections, which was vacated following the untimely death of one of the party’s stalwarts, Moses Tanbdapolie, on March 16th, 2012, NEC rejected the party’s nomination papers on the ground that the party failed to meet submission deadline as stipulated by the NEC.
In the ensuring snafu that obtained as a result of NEC’s rejection of CDC’s bid, NEC released a statement alleging that an unidentified person, purportedly acting on behalf of CDC, had slipped through the nomination center with the help of a security officer and attempted to submit the party’s nomination papers 15 minutes past NEC’s stipulated deadline of 5 pm on Friday, March 18th, 2012.
CDC responded by calling NEC’s action as a “mere bluff” and an unwarranted attempt to interrupt the political process. And despite NEC decision, the party has vowed to vehemently protest the decision at all level, including calling for a mass protest in the streets. It may be recalled that, the last time around, on November 7, when CDC called for a mass action in support of their boycott of the second round of voting during last year’s presidential elections, the situation erupted into violence, leading to the death of at least one person, with many protestors sustaining serious injuries.
During the plenary of the House of Representative yesterday, one of the party’s representatives, Thomas Fallah, forcefully complained to his fellow parliamentarians about the NEC action and demanded that the legislative body conduct a probe into the matter as part of their oversight responsibilities.
This request caused a stir among the lawmakers, who submitted that that the right place for the party to seek redress for NEC decision is the Supreme Court. Margibi County Representative, Ben Fofana, along with several other representatives, argued that involving the legislature with such an issue requiring legal considerations was unacceptable. They claimed that CDC has the right to every legal proceeding under the law, and as such, political grievances must be addressed through the proper means.
However, countering that position, Representative Thomas Fallah averred that CDC was properly petitioning the legislature as provided for in the Constitution of Liberia.
In his view, excluding CDC from the by-election was an attempt to undermine the democratic process. He was supported in his position by Montserrado County Representative Edwin Snowe.
The heated debate lasted for over half an hour until it was agreed that CDC should officially communicate such matter to plenary for discussion in next Tuesday’s session, since the complaint was not officially communicated to plenary.
Interestingly enough, Deputy Speaker Hans Barchu, and other lawmakers intoned that in spite of the Legislature oversight responsibility legislators could not do much to remedy the problem.
According to report, NEC executives were still holding talks on the way forward up to press time.
Nevertheless, political commentators believe that the possibility of the NEC reconsidering its decision is high, as there are discussions and consultations going on aimed at including CDC in the by-election.
In addition, fearing another situation that could spark violence in CDC carries out its threat of a mass protest, political commentators have surmised that NEC could reconsider CDC’s bid to avoid opposition demonstrators again engaging in a violent clash with security forces.