Chief Justice Francis Saye Korkpor yesterday reaffirmed the court’s commitment to ensure a speedy trial on matters that may arise from the conduct of the October elections consistent with the controversial Code of Conduct (CoC) law.
On Friday, March 3, three of the five justices of the Supreme Court favored the 2014 National Code of Conduct Act, with the remaining two going against it.
The decision is with regards to Part V Sections 5.1 and 5.2 of the CoC that states that “(a) Any minister, deputy minister, director-general, managing director and superintendent appointed by the President pursuant to article 56 (a) of the Constitution and a managing director appointed by a Board of Directors who desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said post at least two years prior to the date of such public elections and any other official appointed by the President who holds a tenured position and desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said post three years prior to the date of such public elections.”
In his opening address yesterday, Chief Justice Korkpor said: “We reaffirm that the members of this court have resolved and committed themselves not to take vacation at the end of the March and October terms of court this year to devote full attention to hearing and deciding election-related cases. We reaffirm today, as we begin this March term of court, as you are aware that presidential and legislative elections are due this year.”
He noted that the ensuing October elections are very critical to the maintenance of peace and security as well as the survival of democracy in the country.
He added: “It is therefore incumbent upon us (Liberians), especially those in government as well as those in the private sector and those from all walks of life to do all they can to contribute to the smooth and transparent conduct of the elections.”
Korkpor emphasized that as it stands, the best way that the Judiciary can contribute to the smooth conduct of the ensuing elections is through fair and timely application of the rule of law on all cases arising from electoral disputes whether they involve the conduct of candidates or political parties or the application of the rules of the National Elections Commission (NEC).
Election-related cases, Korkpor said, are direct and time-bound under Article 83 (C) of the Liberian Constitution, with any party, or candidate who complains about the conduct of the elections or who challenges the results thereof shall have the right to complain to the NEC.
Chief Justice Korkpor indicated that such complaints must be filed no later than seven days after the announcement of the results of the elections.
Similarly, he said any candidate or party affected by a decision from the NEC should, no later than seven days, appeal against it to the full bench of the Supreme Court.
Korkpor said after receiving all records pertaining to the case, the Supreme Court will hear and decide the case in seven days.
This, according to the Chief Justice, means that to be accorded the requirement of expeditious hearing and determination by the Supreme Court in seven days as mandated by the Constitution, election-related matters must come from the NEC directly to the full bench of the Supreme Court.
According to him, in accordance with the Constitution, “we heard and decided all electoral matters growing out of the special senatorial elections of 2014 appealed to the court directly from the NEC, except one, which lingered due to the failure of the appealing party,” who failed to pursue the right path and take the appropriate course of action.
In a related development, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf yesterday attended the formal opening of the March Term of the Supreme Court in the spirit of coordination and partnership, the Executive Mansion said in a release.
President Sirleaf, according to the release, attended the formal opening of the March Term of Court with an array of government officials, including Senator Armah Z. Jallah, Pro-Temp of the Senate; and members of the diplomatic corps; the clergy; Counselors-at-Law; and the Premier Choral Society Choir, which rendered a number of selections.