New Run-off Date by NEC Upsets Legislators

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The Senate and House of Representatives believe they should have a say in deciding the new date for the runoff election and not NEC alone. (Pictured from left) Senate Pro-temp Jallah, NEC Chairman Korkoya and House Speaker Nuquay.

UP Writes NEC to take part in FRR clean up

By Leroy M. Sonpon, lll & David S. Menjor

The December 26 date for the runoff of the 2017 presidential elections might be altered by the Legislature as the lawmakers have vowed to punish authorities of the National Elections Commission (NEC) for “usurping legislative function when the commission unilaterally set the runoff date without the their approval.”

On Tuesday, December 12, NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya and the Board of Commissioners announced December 26 as the date for the runoff election after the stay order was lifted by the Supreme Court.

The Legislature, as the first branch of government, has the authority to make laws, make representation and exercise oversight. The Legislature also signs resolutions to make laws and the joint resolution of the Legislature is to propose constitutional amendments. This resolution and other resolutions require a two-thirds affirmative vote in each house, and are not submitted to the President.

Based on that, the Daily Observer yesterday gathered that the Senate has written an additional communication to Korkoya expressing concern for singlehandedly setting a new date for the runoff outside the constitution and without the approval of the legislature.

The NEC chair was earlier summoned to appear before that body on Tuesday, December 19, at 12 noon to address some pertinent problems the commission is faced with in the wake of the pending runoff presidential election.

The Senate’s unanimous decision yesterday followed the reading of a communication from Lofa County Senator Stephen Zargo in which he requested the plenary to invite “the officials of the NEC, including its chairman to come over to appraise the honorable body on how the Commission intends to fix the problems associated with the election as contained in the modification of the Supreme Court opinion.”

On the runoff date, the chairman on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Senator Dan Morias, is expected to lead the pending debate of the ‘NEC’s gross insubordination.’

Also, the Daily Observer has learned that the House’s Chairman on Elections and Inauguration, Grand Bassa County District #3 Representative Gabriel Smith, is expected to write the plenary of the House of Representatives to summon Korkoya to answer “why he cannot be held in contempt for usurping the function of the legislature in setting the date of the runoff after the constitutional date of the runoff was never held.”

Legislative pundits are arguing that the NEC should have written the Legislature on the deferral of the November 7 runoff and the lifting of the stay order by the Supreme Court, and thereby seeking the wisdom of the Legislature in setting a new date for the exercise, as it was done for the 2014 Special Senatorial Election.

They further argued that the Legislature should have established a joint committee, comprising members of the two houses, to establish a new date for the runoff approved by both plenaries.

It may be recalled that in 2014, the Joint Conference Committee on the 2014 Special Senatorial Elections of the Legislature set December 20, 2014, for the Special Senatorial Elections after the NEC proposed December 16. The elections were originally scheduled to be held on October 14, 2014, as defined by the Constitution. However, they were postponed until December 16 due to the Ebola outbreak. Shortly after December 16, they were postponed again until December 20.

Meanwhile as the National Elections Commission (NEC) moves on with preparations leading to the runoff election, Unity Party (UP), which is expected to go against the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has written to NEC chairman Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoya requesting to participate in the cleaning up of the FRR.

In a letter from the party’s legal counsel, Cllr. Benedict Sannoh requested the NEC to get UP involved in the cleaning of the FRR be included

“Accordingly, I have advised the chairman of Unity Party to meet with you in this regard with the view of moving forward with the process not unilaterally but collectively with the Unity Party,” he said, adding that the fullest cooperation of the Commission is solicited in the interest of consolidating the democratic process that the Commission is charged with.

The letter noted “The Supreme Court’s opinion contemplates close collaboration between NEC and the political parties and where this collaboration is not forthcoming it will leave the Unity Party with no alternative but to revert (return) to the Supreme Court with the request for clear directives as to how this mandate should be implemented.

“In our mind, there should be no announcements as to when the election should be held until the Supreme Court’s mandate is fully implemented in particular the clean-up of the FRR.”

Cllr. Sannoh, bringing the Commission to speed with the Supreme Court’s mandate, said “You will also vividly recall that when the judgment of the Supreme Court was read on Saturday, December 9, at the NEC headquarters I made a submission on the record to effect that since the opinion of the Supreme Court does not state with clarity what cleaning up of the FRR entails, and the issue having been raised by Unity Party, the NEC should conduct the clean-up of the FRR in close collaboration with the two parties involved in the run-off.”

He said further that in response to his submission then, the Commission said that it is not opposed to the suggestion and that in fact the Commission was invited by the UP to a meeting at 4:00pm on Saturday, December 9, to discuss the way forward.

“It is my understanding that the meeting was held, but I am reliably informed that the meeting ended abruptly and did not discuss the way forward and did not put into place any mechanisms for collaboration between the NEC and the party in furtherance of the execution of the Supreme Court’s mandate,” he said, adding “We are very concerned about this development.”

When contacted, NEC’s public affairs director, Henry Flomo said he was not aware of Chairman Korkoya receiving said communication. A phone call was also placed to get a response from Cllr. Korkoya but a man presenting himself as his (Korkoya) security guard said he was in a meeting and could not provide any response.

7 COMMENTS

  1. For Korkoya to not know that anything extra-constitutional relative to the conduct of national election in Liberia must be sanctioned by the legislature, is another glaring indication of this man’s incompetence in handling the duties and responsibilities of the NEC. Secondly, the date he selected for the runoff (Dec. 26), could not be any unimaginative and ill-advised than dumb can be. Mr. Korkoya ought to have known that Christmas is the one major holiday when families and friends often plan to be together. This entails people traveling from one area of the country to the other, sometimes even outside of the country just to be with loved ones. Whereas by this preposterous December 26th date, Mr. Korkoyah is thereby grounding every registered voters not to travel outside of their localities, or you will not vote. This is a form of national “curfew” or “marshal law” by implications. These continuous errors by Mr. Korkoya about this election are all telltale signs of the man’s incompetence in handling this sensitive responsibility. And for whatever the reason, his handlers continue to ignore these signs, which could plunge our dear country into another round of hellfire. The scary part to this is, those very people who we usually depend on, or look up to, or run to in case of any fallout from these irrationalities, have themselves seen the preponderance of the follies surrounding this election and advised the necessary adjustments accordingly, but regrettably they too, have been ignored. Must God come down to speak to our leaders about this inevitable gathering storm before they will do something about it?

  2. Aspirants have no monitoring power over this election process. They should be on the campaign trail out of the capitol building with the people they promised to serve when elected. The silent majority will have no alternative but to compel The Legislative digger to move them to the trail. The time has been constitutionally set for campaigning toward the run-off. The Senate has two alternatives (1) Go on with the date as decided and express their dissatisfaction of the target date to the Newly 54 session for future acknowledgement and suggest in optional writing that NEC’s chair be secured, unoccupied temporarily under the authority of the incumbent President while she still has few days in executive functioning until the new government comes in. We cannot use insubordination to cure insubordination. (2) Work with the commissions to ensure the voting process is constitutionally a factual procedure as required, with the count in a peaceful atmosphere. The Supreme Court and Executive will have no contact with party electoral litigants or candidates right now or with legislation on run-off affairs until the Supreme decision interpreted for the run-off is completed, executed and next President of Liberia elected and inaugurated. A vote is a vote and equal in the eyes of the ballot box. No one branch, part or individual can be specially treated when it is time for the freedom to make a choice.
    The Liberian people will be told anyway. Do not reply this box.
    Find the silent majority’s 54%.

  3. Legislators, move from here, mehn (the Liberian way). PUWAH, YOUR KNOW YOUR JOB? The time for Legislators to carry the President pocket book over. When, you Legislators are seated after the inauguration of the next PRESIDENT, you Senators and Legislators better do your JOB, as written in the Constitution. NO more time to play in the Liberian People House, on Capitol Hill.

  4. NEC should not need a rocket scientist to tell it that credible, transparent, free and fair election under the prevailing circumstances is not possible for the December 26 date or any date in December this year. As Ellen and NEC have been exposed to have presided over the illegal addition of extra 140,000 to the FRR and given that they all tried their best to keep this fact secret until ECOWAS sent the Election Investigative Team recently, an acceptable election can only be held after Ellen leaves power and turn over the President Pro Tempore, Sen. Armah Jallah, in line with Article 64 of the Liberian Constitution. Liberia is not Ellen’s farm that she can simply use and then choose to award the country to her hand picked successor. It will not work. It will not hold.

  5. The electoral irregularities, fraud, et al complaints of Brumskine and UP fall under Chapter V111 Article 83 c of the 1986 Constitution, to wit:

    “Any party or candidate who complains about the manner in which the elections were conducted or who challenges the results thereof shall have the right to file a complaint with the Elections Commission… Any political party or independent candidate affected by such decision shall not later than seven days appeal against it to the Supreme Court… If the Supreme Court nullifies or sustains the nullification of the election of any candidate, for whatever reasons, ‘the Elections commission shall within sixty days of the decision of the Court’ conduct new elections to fill the vacancy. If the court sustains the election of a candidate, the Elections Commission shall act to effectuate the mandate of the Court”.

    Perhaps, it is worth remembering that “within sixty days” may be a week, especially in this case with time constraint to meet deadline of Chapter 1, Article 1 regarding the right of the people to alter government by “regular elections”. Moreover, there is nothing in the constitution which says legislators have to set dates for elections after an election result’s verdict handed down by the Supreme Court. Contrary to such overreach, in Chapter V11, Article 66, the constitution maintains –

    “In all such cases, the Supreme Court shall exercise original jurisdiction. The Legislature shall make no law nor create any exceptions as would deprive the Supreme Court of any of the powers granted herein”.

    Notwithstanding, in pursuant of their oversight authority, legislators have right to summon NEC officials and request that they effectuate the Supreme Court’s mandate vis – a – vis cleaning the FRR. Indeed, “cleaning FRR” is a far cry from ordering the reforming of a broken electoral infrastructure. Put another way, December 26 is definitely the date or the run – off. NEC must cooperate with legislators for a transparent and credible contest, but should ignore delaying tactics bent on ushering a provisional government in violation of the constitution.

  6. Without the interventions from the LP, UP and others, the election results would have been out in time. Given that the contesting parties have the right to protect and protest their rights; NEC had no alternative but to make the necessary adjustments in order to meet the deadline of January 1, 2018. Now is the time for the legislators to show leadership, as the first branch of government to make compromises in meeting this date. In order to minimize the problems, NEC must appraise the President and legislators by letter outlining a proposed schedule of events along with an apology for moving the dates forward. We need to make the necessary compromises in meeting the constitutional deadline of January 15, 2018. Once the agreed changes are made without diluting the authority of NEC, I find no reasons to differ.

  7. If the constitutional date is set appropriately, nothing can stop its highest elevation. The senate cannot negotiate made laws especially already enacted. It is within this process remedy eliminates delays as was in the case prior to set precedence for mistakes made in past elections. You cannot replace a sitar with a guitar, weather right or wrong to satisfy or dissatisfy Liberian observing feelings. The point is that the election process for this Presidential run-off has been constitutionally judiciously decided. This is the final law to the end of the running for a constitutional President of Liberia. Keep an eye on the trouble makers who intend is to disrupt the process for selfish, lusty, reasons. Regardless their present reasons, the constitution will vote them out or put them out for a smooth and factual election. As a matter of fact the silent majority immediately is over the election process to ensure the run-off is completed with the Liberian people 3 diggers placed one each at Capitol Building, The Executive Mansion, and Temple of Justice. Let the incumbent know accordingly, and protect the public and private in peace to get ready for the run-off. Every Liberian is not Christian, even though Liberia is practically a Christian nation. Celebrate your X-mas anytime you believe in. To my children and grand of age to vote, vote your choice to vote. No one can force you or stop you from voting. I am not giving X-mas to anyone whether you are Christian, Muslin, or atheist until we find a new factual actual President after the run-off. Run your campaign for yourself all 20 registered aspirants are still in the campaign for the run-off, but only one President this country needs. The 57% silent majority will receive the President when the time comes. Talk Liberian to the Liberian people. Liberian people will handle their own election with their own diggers. Do not reply this box.
    Gone in silence.

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