-AU, ECOWAS, UNMIL Express Fears
Liberia international partners are becoming weary that the ongoing political stalemate in the country, if not resolved soon, will affect the much anticipated smooth transition process that should be the first in over seven decades.
In a joint statement issued in Monrovia Friday, the African Union Liaison Office (AULOL), and Office of the ECOWAS Commission as well as the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), called for calm, while at the same time urging for the rule of law to be upheld. The partners are also calling for the expeditious adjudication of the on-going election disputes.
“We are aware of the grievances and concerns of some political parties regarding the 10 October elections and their complaints to seek either a rerun, or amends towards improving the National Elections Commission’s performance in the areas of concern before holding a run-off election.
“But we express concern over the prospects of a significant delay in bringing the litigations to their closure, thereby thwarting completion of the election process before the constitutionally-mandated date of government transition in January 2018,” the statement said.
Without prejudicing the decisions of the National Elections Commission and the Supreme Court, as bodies vested with the legal and constitutional authority to adjudicate such matters, the Partners indicated, “We call upon all parties to deal with the electoral process in a sincere, responsible and professional manner and vigorously work towards early completion of the on-going legal petitions and motions.”
Consideration of these, they indicated, would enable the conclusion of the political rigmarole without undue delay.
The statement was issued just hours after Unity Party’s motion requesting NEC’s hearing officer to compel NEC produce the work sheets of presiding officers of the 5,390 polling places across the country as well as the final voters roll, was denied.
Also, another motion from UP requesting for other political parties who have complaints to intervene, was also denied by the NEC’s hearing officer.
However, the final ruling from the UP’s intervention case expected today, Nov. 13. If the ruling does not go in the ruling party’s favor, there is a chance for appeal to the Board of commissioners and subsequently, if unsuccessful, to the Supreme Court, if the party still feels aggrieved.
This rigmarole between UP and NEC, which might take significant time as it seems, reflects AU, ECOWAS and UNMIL fears that time is is of essence to dispose of the huge log of cases (over 60) of alleged fraud and irregularities—including the landmark Liberty Party’s case that is yet to be looked into Supreme Court ruled that NEC “expeditiously” look into it just over a week ago.
The LP, who case has not been look into requested a rerun of the first round of voters, but to achieve that the party must be able to provide proof of widespread fraud. Currently, the LP has stated what type and means by which the polling workers committed fraud.
The joint statement added that, in pursuit of efforts to facilitate a peaceful transition, AU, ECOWAS and UNMIL reiterated their call on all parties and stakeholders to exercise restraint, uphold the rule of law and conduct all activities with civility and in a non-violent manner, including in their public discourse.
“The conduct of peaceful, free, fair and transparent elections is a prerequisite for democratic consolidation, sustainable peace and development in Liberia,” the joint press statement continued. “It is our fervent hope, therefore, that all stakeholders will remain productively committed to a historic and peaceful transition and that the collective will and aspirations of the Liberian people will not be compromised for individual ambitions. Allegiance to Liberia must remain the common denominator for sustaining peace and the pursuit of development.”
The AU, ECOWAS and UNMIL statement concluded that that the destiny of Liberia and its peace and development trajectory remain the responsibility of all Liberians, and that the International Community will continue to facilitate any possible assistance that may be deemed necessary to fast-track the country’s development beyond the elections.