The ruling Unity Party (UP) has termed the Supreme Court’s action in recent electoral disputes involving two of its senators- elect as a “dangerous precedent.”
Cllr. Varney Sherman and Morris Saytumah won their respective senatorial seats in the special elections with 13,651 and 8,857 votes in Grand Cape Mount and Bomi Counties, respectively, but the results were subsequently challenged before the high court, ignoring the required channels provided by the electoral laws of Liberia.
The High Court has since ruled in both cases and instructed the National Elections Commission (NEC) to proceed with the certification of the UP senators- elect.
At the ceremony yesterday, UP Secretary General Wilmot Paye noted that the trend of the Supreme Court signals a very “dangerous precedent” for Liberia’s fragile democracy.
Paye told newsmen that his party is worried about the future of the country in the wake of “the interference from the High Court.”
He equated the latest action by the Supreme Court to the “misuse of judiciary power,” and wondered what will be the role of the Supreme Court in 2017 when elections will be conducted for 73 electoral districts and for the presidency.
“There are laws that govern electoral processes. The new Election Law states how complaints emanating from election competitions are addressed in Liberia and we expect the court to know these things. The law called for electoral disputes to start with the counties then to the Commission before finally reaching the Supreme Court. From all indications, these two cases began at the Supreme Court,” he said.
“Imagine in 2017 how the Supreme Court will be overwhelmed with unnecessary complaints because they have set a very wrong precedent,” the UP stalwart stressed.
Meanwhile, presenting certificates to the two winners in Monrovia, the Acting Chairman of the Commission, Cllr. Sarah M. Toe said after conducting hearings into complaints filed against the elected senators, the Board of Commissioners of NEC reaffirmed their election because the complainants could not prove “allegations of electoral fraud filed against the candidates.”
“Consequently, the Supreme Court of Liberia last week rescinded its decision to prohibit the certification of Cllrs. Sherman and Saytumah.
“Accordingly, and in keeping with Section 2.9 (q) of the New Elections Law of Liberia, we are gathered here today to certificate Cllr. Sherman and Cllr. Saytumah. The certification of Mr. Tornolah is still pending,” the acting NEC Boss noted.
She said as much as these individuals felt discouraged because they could not be certificated with their colleagues during the certification ceremony on January 3, the NEC welcomes the decision of those who felt aggrieved by the outcome of the December 20, 2014 Special Senatorial Election in their recourse to the law.
“This is a clear indication that our democracy is maturing. It is therefore the wish of the Commission that this practice of reverting to the law whenever a citizen feels aggrieved in a process will resonate in all areas of our lives as citizens of Liberia.” Cllr. Toe concluded.
Speaking on behalf of the newly certificated senators, Bomi County Senator-elect, Morris Saytumah lauded the NEC, the Supreme Court and the electorate for the process that legitimized their election as senators of Bomi and Cape Mount Counties, respectively.
He said that they are going to the Senate to make significant changes in the body politics of Liberia, noting that the current senate will work very diligently to ensure a smooth transition in 2017.