Liberia: Supreme Court Reserves Ruling on Lawsuit against National Elections Commission

Chief Justice designate  Sie-A-Nyene Gaypay Yuoh

--- "We reserved the ruling and will resume hearing on  April 5,” Chief Justice Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh said. 

The Supreme Court has reserved judgment on the lawsuit filed by the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) against the ongoing biometric voter registration. 

The court heard close to an hour of argument before making the decision."

“We reserved a ruling and would resume hearing on April 5,” Chief Justice Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh said while discussing the opposition party's suit.

The CPP's lawsuit alleged that the National Elections Commission's (NEC) decision to conduct the voter registration exercise without first demarcating constituencies, as a result of a national census, goes against the country's constitution, particularly Article 80 (e and c).

The CPP's lawsuit is seeking the intervention of the Supreme Court to compel the NEC to adhere to the Constitution and prevent any violations of its provisions related to elections. They argue that allowing even one violation could lead to further violations, potentially impacting the timely conduct of the upcoming elections.

Article 80 (e),  provides that "immediately following a national census and before the next elections, the Elections Commission shall reapportion the constituencies in accordance with the new population figures so that every constituency shall have as close to the same population…"

Article 80(c) among other things grants that every Liberian citizen has the right to be registered and vote only in the constituency where they are registered.

The Ministry of Justice and the NEC have argued that the ongoing voter registration exercise is not in violation of the Constitution, as alleged by the CPP. They assert that the demarcation of districts in accordance with the Census cannot be done until the full census results are released, and NEC can then submit a threshold bill to the legislature.

 The Justices' decision, in this case, will however have significant implications for Liberia's political future.  If the Court rules in favor of the CPP, it could lead to a delay in the election process as NEC would be forced to cancel the voters' registration exercise -- potentially reshaping the political landscape.

On the other hand, if the court sides with the Commission, it could help to alleviate some of the tensions and allow the process to move on.  The justices' decision ruling would come at a critical time in Liberia's political landscape, with tensions running high ahead of the upcoming presidential election, which is expected to be closely contested.

Liberia's population, according to the provisional results released by LISGIS, stands at 5.2 million, an increase of 50.4 percent when compared to when it was 3.5 million.  This represents a population gain of over 1.7 million people in the space of 14 years, with urban growth up by 52 percent and rural growth down by 48 percent.