Concerns over the historic transfer of power from Africa’s first elected female president, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, to her successor, may not be resolved soon if technicalities surrounding alleged October 10 frauds and irregularities reported by some political parties continue to overwhelm investigations.
What is obtaining is that the alleged October 10 irregularities and frauds’ cases at the National Elections Commission (NEC) are overburdening the NEC and the Supreme Court because of what many see as too many demands that the two bodies may not able to contend with and, as a result, may not realize the dream of electorates, except patriotic sacrifices are made.
Pleading for the ruling Unity Party (UP), Cllr. H. Varney G. Sherman has persistently called on the NEC to produce pieces of evidence against itself until progress into their intervention case can proceed. While the NEC is yet to honor that request, the remaining 51 days of the Year 2017 might not be enough time to conclude the matter and complete the runoff elections.
NEC is yet to dispose of a total of 56 cases before it that have arisen from the October 10 polls. Yet, Sherman has filed a motion to the hearing office of the NEC to order the Commission to bring forward all journals and presiding officers’ work sheets in the October 10 elections.
He has argued that Cllr. Frank Musa Dean, NEC’s lead lawyer is in cohoots with the Commission to allegedly hide all documents with evidence of wrongdoing in connection with the October 10 polls.
UP, which failed to take advantage of the election law to “file complaints within seven days after the conduct of elections,” later succeeded in gaining access the process to intervene in the Liberty Party’s case, by means of what observers have described as ‘technical means and legal intimidation.’
The UP’s intervention case has now overshadowed almost all other hearings into the alleged irregularities and frauds while the landmark case of the Liberty Party is yet to be looked into by the Commission since it was reassigned to the Commission’s hearing body based on appeal.
Meanwhile, Sherman, along with his team has vowed that it does not matter how long it may take if the adjudication of all cases emanating from the entire electoral process is to be completed. “We don’t care even if it takes years. All we want is justice,” Sherman boasted.
Counter-arguing in for the NEC, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean said the UP’s attempt is to subvert democracy and return the country back to its dark days, though he did not explain what he meant with reference to the ‘dark days.’
“Your Honor, Mr. Hearing Officer, I plead that you throw this UP intervention case out and deny them the chance to any further hearing. They are crying more than LP who claimed to be the principal bereaved party in the October 10 elections,” Dean said.
Concerning UP’s request of the hearing officer to invite all other political parties who participated in the October 10 polls to explain their grievances about the process, should there be any, Cllr. Dean noted that UP wants to cause a deliberate delay until time for the much anticipated presidential transition is lost.
“It is not about us here only but also the millions of our fellow citizens who depend on the structures put in place to shape the destiny of this country. We must stop playing technicalities and the unnecessary politics if we mean well for this country we call our own,” Cllr. Dean cautioned.
Why the threat to the historic peaceful transition?
On October 29, the ruling Unity Party held a press conference and accused its standard bearer emeritus, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, of not supporting the party but the opposition party. The press statement, which was read by its national chairman, Wilmot Paye declared Madam Sirleaf “an ingrate and a troublemaker,” even though they have presented her before as a darling angel.
The All Liberian Party (ALP) of businessman Benoni Urey and the Alternative National Congress (ANC) of former Coca-Cola executive Alexander Benedict Cummings and the Liberty Party (LP) of Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine also supported the UP’s action against President Sirleaf and they are presently in a well-organized political alliance.
Responding yesterday to the Daily Observer at the ongoing hearing at the NEC, Madam Melinda B. Charles, the executive director for Women and Children Development Association (WOCDA), said the women of Liberia want justice for all, but not to the detriment of the country’s democracy.
“We are happy that this time around there is no war. The justice system is good for all of us but playing games or technicalities with the very justice system may carry us backward,” Madam Charles said.
“The women of this nation fought for this peace and we want peace forever,” she continued. “All the parties involved in the ongoing elections cases should work hard and save time to allow President Sirleaf turn over power to whoever is elected between Sen. George M. Weah and Vice President Joseph N. Boakai.”
Many Liberians are wondering how the state of affairs will be, should President Sirleaf not be able to turn power over to her successor at the end of her term.
If Senate Pro Tempore Armah Jallah is not constitutionally qualified to take care of the government until elections are held then it means that the country will have to go back to transitional government arrangement, many Liberians have speculated.
Senator Jallah’s tenure as Pro Tempore will end in January 2018 when President Sirleaf leaves office. And this gives room for the predicted constitutional crisis that many Liberians and observers have alluded to, which has been rejected by the opposition Congress for Democratic Change, (CDC).
Since the previous two presidential elections were successfully conducted with significant help from the international community, many Liberians are worried that Liberians are failing to execute an election that “only Liberians are managing.”