In event of election disputes
The possibility of any challenge to the 2017 election results at the Supreme Court which could lead to a political void, has led Senator Varney Sherman (Grand Cape Mount County) to submit to his colleagues for approval a draft law to address any potential dispute.
The bill is titled: “A Draft Law to Give Statutory Effect to the Legislative Continuity Provision of the Constitution and Provide the Process for the Continuance of Democratic Governance in the Event of Election Dispute.”
The legislative continuity provisions of the Constitution are designed to address any void in the democratic governance of Liberia in an election year, when the offices of the President, Vice President and all the members of the House of Representatives are open for contest, or when electoral disputes regarding the election of the President and Vice President are not resolved in keeping with the law before Inauguration Day. The provisions are intended to give statutory effect to and provide the process for the continuance of democratic governance in the event of elections disputes over the offices of President and Vice President.
In the letter to his colleagues, Sherman said “The fact and circumstance surrounding the 2017 elections, which shall be held on October 10, 2017, reveal lapses in Liberian law, which ought to be addressed and cured before the elections are conducted this year and to be used as legal guidance for General Elections pursuit to Section 1.2 (1) of the New Elections Law (meaning elections for the offices of the President, Senators and Representative held every six years).”
According to the letter, “The Senate shall be the only organ of the political branches of the government (Legislature and Executive) which shall remain unimpaired and fully operational. This means that the 2017 elections are endowed with political sensitivity which must be addressed by law; otherwise, there could be a serious void in the governance process and constitutional crisis could thereby be precipitated.” The bill states that, “Disputes over election results for the offices of President and Vice President, which are not resolved before the third Monday of January of the year following elections (Inauguration Day) could create a void in the democratic governance of Liberia and thereby precipitate a constitutional crisis.”
“For the 2017 elections and possibly all elections hereafter the high number of contending political parties and independent candidates for the offices of President and Vice President and seats in the House of Representatives present the possibility that electoral disputes from these elections could possibly run into Inauguration Day following the elections.”
Additionally, the bill proposes further that:
Pursuant to the intent and purpose of the legislative continuity provisions of Article 46 of the Constitution, which is to provide for the democratic governance of Liberia during an election year when the offices of President, Vice President and all members of the House of Representatives are open for contest, the President Pro Tempore shall, and in keeping with the accession provisions of Articles 63 and 64 of the Constitution, serve as Acting President of Liberia in the event that disputes over election results for the offices of President and Vice President are not resolved in keeping with law before Inauguration Day in the year following the general and presidential election;
In the event of the occurrence described in Section-1 above, the Chief Justice shall swear the President Pro Tempore into office as Acting President on Inauguration Day and the President Pro Tempore shall continue in office as Acting President until the election dispute(s) which necessitated his assumption of the office of Acting President are resolved in keeping with law.