“Dangerous Precedent”

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ECC Chairman, Oscar Bloh

— ECC describes postponement of Montserrado By-Elections

The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC), a civil society organization, has described as “dangerous precedents” the multiple postponements of the Montserrado County By-Elections, which could undermine the country’s emerging and fragile democracy.

The ECC statement came in the wake of the two consecutive postponements of the pending senatorial and representative by-elections by the authorities of the National Elections Commission (NEC). The second postponement announced by NEC was “indefinite”, pending the arrival of elections materials into the country.

The Head of ECC Oscar Bloh, told reporters at a news conference in Monrovia on July 23 that the non-compliance to the rule of law further undermines the consolidation of peace and the fundamental principles of good governance and democracy.

Mr. Bloh cited article 2 of the Liberian Constitution, which states: “Any law, treaty, status, decrees, customs and regulations found to be inconsistent with it shall, to the extent of this inconsistency, be void and of no legal effect.”

He said the Supreme Court, pursuant to its power of judicial review, is empowered to declare any inconsistent laws unconstitutional.

On Article 37 of the Constitution, Bloh said, it instructs and mandates the NEC to fill any vacancy in the Legislature not later than 90 days after the presiding officer shall have notified the Commission of said vacancy.

The ECC therefore, calls on the government to make available the US$1 million to conduct the two by-elections on July 29, 2019 as the continuous postponement “undermines the rule of law and the constitution of Liberia.”

Bloh, however, said the ECC will observe the by-elections to ensure the full deployment of 425 observers on election day, and will release a preliminary statement on its observation efforts July 29 and 30, 2019 respectively.

He used the occasion to call on members of the 54th Legislature to strengthen its oversight over the NEC, noting, “we believe that the Commission should not be setting election date unless under extreme national emergencies sanctioned by the Legislature.”

Mr. Bloh then calls on all political actors to refrain from the use of social media and inflammatory statements, which would eventually have the propensity to incite violence.

“The consolidation of peace and security is dependent upon adherence to the rule of law. Therefore, we encourage all registered voters to turn out to vote in a peaceful manner,” said Bloh.

The combined by-elections that is expected to replace the late Senator Geraldine Doe-Sherif of Montserrado and the late Representative Adolph Lawrence Montserrado County Electoral District #15, was postponed on July 2 and 8, respectively, due to “non-availability of electoral materials,” NEC said.

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