–CPP Says Enough is Enough; Vows to Resist Politically and Legally
The leadership of the Collaborating Political Parties has concluded that the current composition of the National Elections Commission is without the capacity nor competence to deliver on its constitutional mandate to conduct free, fair and credible public elections in the country void of political interference.
“For the CPP and all well-meaning Liberians, this is unacceptable! Enough is enough!”
The current Chairperson of the CPP, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence made the assertion on Tuesday, March 16, when the political alliance gave their official reaction to the delayed certification of the legally-embattled Senator-elect of Lofa County, Mr. Brownie Jeffrey Samukai.
Flanked by stalwarts of the CPP, including the immediate past chairman, Mr. Alexander Cummings of the Alternative National Congress, at the newly acquired headquarters of the Liberty Party, Senator Lawrence said the CPP is compelled to draw attention to serious ongoing threats to Liberia’s peace, security and democracy. “This, again, is being manifested by the failure to adhere to the rule of law, the continued corruption of the courts, and political interference in the works of NEC.”
The Grand Bassa County Senator, who is also the political leader of the Liberty Party, noted that despite the undercurrent of political interference in this and other matters, the CPP has continued to accept the final and binding authority of the courts on all persons and groups.
“We continue to obey the courts not because we believe them to be incorruptible and free from the Executive’s reach of political interference; we continue to do so knowing it to be in the best interests of our country’s peace, security and democracy, all of the preservation of which is tied to the preservation of the rule of law,” she noted.
“The Elections Commission,” she declared, “is not without blame in this collusion.” According to her, the CPP is aware that the electoral body, which itself declared Senator-elect Samukai as a winner, contrived to delay the clear and unambiguous decision of the Honorable Supreme Court to proceed with the certification. This contrivance, she warned, has not only denied the people of Lofa the fullness in representation to which they are entitled like all other counties of the Republic, but has also, once again, compelled the CPP to draw into a reasonable question, the constitutionally-required independence and autonomy of the NEC.
“We are forced to conclude that the current composition of the NEC is without the capacity nor competence to deliver on its constitutional mandate to conduct free, fair and credible public elections in our country void of political interference,” Senator Lawrence intimated, decrying political collusion against the rule of law, the continued corruption of the Judiciary, and the lack of independence of the National Elections Commission.
Chairperson Lawrence told the press conference that the CPP understands that the rule of law is always undermined to the detriment of a nation when either a government, individual or group acts in defiance of, or believes they can choose based on friendship, partisanship or in furtherance of narrow political interests, which decisions of the courts to obey, and which to not obey.
“At the heart of our commitment, the rule of law must always be our shared willingness to enforce the final judgments and decisions of the courts. This guarantees the availability of justice to all persons ensuring the peace, security and democratic health of a nation,” said Senator Lawrence, who is the only female senator and who chairs the Senate Committee on Rules, Order and Administration.
Furthermore, Senator Lawrence asserted that where legal challenges to the outcome of an election are conclusively determined by the highest court; for the instructed electoral body to refuse to enforce the final decision and instruction of the court to proceed to certificate, “as the NEC has decided to defiantly do, undermines the rule of law, and denies the people of Lofa their right to their choice of representative.”
“Shockingly, to realize their unconstitutional conspiracy against the people of Lofa County, the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC), a moribund political party, petitioned the court through Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe, the Justice in Chambers, to prohibit the enforcement of the final decision of the full bench of the highest court.”
The MPC petition, the CPP statement noted, is not only without legal basis but it offers no legal precedence nor does it cite any legal reliance for its claim. “Even on the face of these blatant legal defects, Associate Justice Nagbe, acting apparently on instructions from the Executive, illegally, unprecedentedly and singularly issued an order to stay the enforcement of the final decision of the full bench, a decision to which he is a member-justice, signatory, and participated in deciding.”
Indeed, CPP described the current maneuvers as ominous signs for 2023 and the continued consolidation of the country’s young democracy. The colaborating parties emphasized that the MPC’s collusion which it said is aided and abetted by Associate Justice Nagbe, strikes a fatal blow at the heart of Liberia’s democracy and its promise to the people to freely and fairly elect their leaders, while dangerously undermining the rule of law and the authority of the Liberian Constitution that all power is inherent in the people, the greatest of which is the right to choose their leaders and representatives.
The statement warned that the duty to protect Liberia’s democracy is not one the CPP takes lightly, stressing that the commitment to the rule of law is not one the CPP will accept that anyone or group can either trivialize or elect to disregard when it does not conform to their selfish political interests.
“Therefore, we announce today that we stand with the Supreme Court in a call for the full enforcements of both of its final decisions — the first to finally determine guilt and the satisfactory punishment therefor, and the second to finally determine the winner in the Midterm Senatorial Elections in Lofa County, as well as the attendant instructions to proceed to certificate the winner, Senator-elect Brownie J. Samukai, without further delays.”
“To the best of our abilities, the CPP will strongly resist, by a combination of political and legal actions, any nefarious effort to undermine the rule of law by cherrypicking decisions of the nation’s highest court that are enforceable, and thereby risk the country’s peace, security and democracy.”
The CPP assured its stance with the gallant men and women of the Armed Forces of Liberia who must be justly reimbursed as directed by the highest court. “Similarly, we stand with the people of Lofa County whose overwhelming election of a senator of their choice is without legal dispute and has been finally determined by the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia.”
The statement further that CPP, and all well-meaning Liberians, cannot afford to stand idly by and watch the slaughter of the soul of the country’s democracy. “Our duty to act is one we consider to be nationally compelling. Liberia cannot simply claim to be democratic, and at the same time, permit the actions of our courts and democratic institutions to bend the rule of law selectively, out of convenience, or be engaged in lawless behavior.”
“It is also true that those into whose hands we have entrusted the power to govern democratically will not likely do so without our willingness to continuously ensure that they respect the laws of our country. The painful fact is that too many in our country have suffered, bled and died for the creation of a democratic order in Liberia. We are deeply concerned that if allowed to go unchecked, the current infantile maneuvers and political collusions will grow to seriously threaten our democracy, the authority of the Constitution, and thereby, risk the peace and security of the Republic.”
It can be recalled that on February 8, 2021, the Supreme Court of Liberia entered final Judgment against Mr. J. Brownie Samukai, Former Minister of Defense and two others. In that Judgment, the Court affirmed, with modification, the guilty judgment reached by the trial court, and declared in its final judgment that the “appellants are all hereby sentenced to serve a term of two years each in a common jail. However, the sentences shall be suspended provided the appellants shall restitute the full amount of US$1,147,656.35 (One Million, One Hundred Forty-Seven Thousand, Six Hundred Fifty-Six U.S. Dollars and thirty-five cents) or fifty percent thereof within six months and thereafter enter appropriate arrangements to pay the remaining portion in one calendar year. Should the appellants fail or refuse to restitute as stated above, then and in that case, they shall be incarcerated in the common jail.”
“Today, therefore, let the word go forth that the CPP will resist the continued corruption of our courts, and the continued use and/or abuse of our judiciary to the detriment of our country’s peace, security and stability. As already indicated, we are commencing a number of political and legal actions against the continued abuse and corrosion of the independence and autonomy of the National Elections Commission, and have instructed the membership of our legislative caucus to begin the drafting of electoral reforms intended to address evolving issues in the qualification of candidates as well as protect the expressed will of the people in choosing their leaders, in a timely and credible manner that is not disruptive to the normal flow of government activities and functions.”