Ministry’s decisions come in the wake of complaints by Frank Artus that the guidelines released by the union elections commission was unconstitutional
The pending election of the Liberia National Movie Union (LIMU), scheduled to take place at the end of this month, has been placed on hold by the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT).
The Ministry’s decisions come in the wake of complaints by Frank Artus, the standard bearer of the All-Star Movement, expressing displeasure at what he described as “the unconstitutional guidelines” released by Junior Pewee Russian, chairman of the commission.
The decision was intended to allow the Ministry to invite the complainant and the Union elections commission to a full hearing, after which the Ministry was to release its ruling into the complaints.
The 24 counts of complaints filed by Frank Artus against the Union commission noted, among other things, that the appointment of the commission was unconstitutional because the decision was unilaterally taken by the Union president Martha Arkosah, without consultations of the National Executive Committee.
Among other provisions, LIMU’s elections guidelines want a contestant for LIMU’s president to be a Liberian and that his/her parents should be a property owner with at least L$100,000 in his/her account. The Commission said such a contestant should have parents who are both Liberians. Frank Artus’ father is an Egyptian.
“Decentralization of the Union election is not within the power of the Union election commission, thus making such action unconstitutional and illegal and is intended to sway the result of the elections negatively.
“And that the commission actions to draw the guidelines from both the old constitutions, which has been approved and the amended one that has not been approved, is a clear violation of our constitution and that the commission is not only retarded but equally destroys whatever values we hold, which bring us to the realization that the commissioner will corrupt every possible result of the elections.
“Also, our constitutions stipulate that a presidential candidate must be a Liberian citizen and not less than 30-years old, as opposed to guidelines released by the commission dictating that such a candidate should be a natural born Liberian,” the complaint said.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the National Elections Commission, Junior Pewee Russian, has denied accusations that a clause regarding the elections is meant to deprive Mr. Artus of the presidency.
“The Elections Commission members were appointed by the Union’s president with the consent of the members, including the complainant, who was in that meeting. If the commission’s selection is unconstitutional as he (Frank Artus) claims, I don’t think he could have registered, although he still owes some balance of his registration,” Chairman Russian said.
He added: “We are working directly with the constitution of the Union, which was amended last year. It is a shame that Artus bypassed the complaint channel and went directly to the minister to complain. The Union is ready for a new day and people will merit every position they want to ascend to.
“The guidelines drawn for the elections came directly from the amended constitution. The complainant needs to go and read the constitution before coming to the public to make any allegation,” he said in a phone conversation.
Meanwhile, Chairman Russian disclosed that this year’s election, unlike in the past, will take place in 10 of the 15 counties, making the election more decentralized than ever before.