-Setting Date for Runoff, Update on Implementation of Supreme Court Mandate on Agenda
The current debate on whether the National Elections Commission (NEC) has the sole authority to fix the current date (December 26) for the presidential runoff election and an update on the implementation of the Supreme Court’s mandate will be top items on the Senate’s agenda when NEC Chairman Cllr Jerome Korkoya and the Board of Commissioners face that body today at 12 noon.
The Secretary of the Senate, J. Nanborlor F. Sengbeh, in an interview with this newspaper yesterday, confirmed the appearance of the NEC officials and the possibility of the new runoff date taking center stage, adding that the House of Representatives has already raised concern on the Elections Commission’s action.
There are reports of some lawmakers citing events that led to the rescheduling of the October 2014 Special Senatorial Election to December due to the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease, when a joint resolution signed by the Legislature accepted the new date.
The Supreme Court has, however, reportedly agreed that the NEC’s new decision is in line with the Constitution and the New Elections Law.
The Senate’s unanimous decision last Tuesday during that body’s 77th day sitting followed the reading of a letter from Lofa County Senator Stephen J. H. Zargo, in which he requested the Senate plenary to invite “the officials of NEC including its Chairman, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, to appear on Thursday, December 14, to appraise the honorable body on how the NEC intends to fix the problems associated with the election as contained within the modification of the Supreme Court Opinion.”
Senator Zargo, who chairs the Senate Committee on Defense, Security, Intelligence and Veteran Affairs, told our reporter that the Senate’s attention is necessary at “this crucial stage of our national politics that also has security implications.”
During its landmark ruling in the Liberty Party/Unity Party versus the NEC prohibition case on Thursday, December 7, the Supreme Court mandated the NEC to fix the problems that occasioned the taking of the case to the Supreme Court.
In its eight-count mandate, the Supreme Court ruled that the NEC should publish and make available the Final Registration Roll (FRR) to all electoral magistrates for subsequent display at all polling places across the country; the cleaning up of the FRR, wherein persons whose names were not on same should not be allowed to vote; that addendum to the FRR be limited to those within the NEC polling and counting manual; and that officials of NEC refrain from making utterances on matters growing out of the runoff election which could likely be issues of possible future electoral disputes, among others.
River Gee County Senator Conmany B. Wesseh earlier proffered a motion to send his colleague’s letter to the Senate Committee on Autonomous Agencies, but was met with negative reaction from some of his colleagues.
Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence specifically recalled the appearance of officials of the NEC prior to the elections over some of the issues raised by LP and UP, and declared that if the relevant committee had followed up with the NEC over what was discussed, “maybe we would not be where we are currently. I, therefore, urge my colleague that he amends his motion that will ask the NEC officials appearance before plenary.”