Beware The Ides of December, President Weah!

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The recent Supreme Court’s decision barring NEC  from holding the referendum alongside the December 8, 2020 elections has been welcome by civil society and the public at large. The Court took the decision following a petition filed by the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) seeking to bar NEC from holding the referendum on December 8.

But while the Court’s decision has been welcomed by the public, the NEC Chairperson has insisted that the referendum will go ahead in keeping with law. Just which law(s) she had referenced to support her assertion remains unclear.

However, a leading lawyer has told the Daily Observer that based on experience from the 2017 elections, it should come as no surprise that the NEC has openly declared that shall instead, proceed with the referendum meaning that it shall not respect the opinion of the Court.

Such was the case in 2017 when the NEC ignored, with impunity, the mandate/decision of the Supreme Court to have the Voters’ Roll (VR) cleaned-up before holding the presidential runoff elections.

According to the lawyer, should NEC ignore the Supreme Court ban and proceed with the referendum, it will be in contravention of the law and may very well create problems of legitimacy of the referendum and elections results and, by extension, the legitimacy of the government itself.

In such a case, parties may find themselves with little choice other than to return to the Supreme Court with a petition to have the referendum results annulled.

In its Writ of Prohibition filed before the Supreme Court, the CPP maintained that the Government of Liberia published an official gazette on the referendum, which was inconsistent with Article 92 of the Constitution.

Article 92 reads as follows:

“If more than one proposed amendment is to be voted upon in a referendum, they shall be submitted in such manner that the people may vote for or against them separately.” 

In view of this, it appears obvious that the parties will return to the Court to seek redress. And it could result in long drawn-out legal battles that would only serve to further heighten tension akin to the 2017 experience and only God knows what could happen.

However, should the parties fail to get redress, the other available option could be a resort to the ECOWAS Court of Justice for a determination on the matter just as it was in the Justice Ja’neh’s case.

The concern is, even should the ECOWAS Court rule in favor of the parties, enforceability will prove a very daunting challenge particularly if the government refuses to respect or abide by the decisions of that body.

But welcoming the decision taken by the Supreme Court which ruled in favor of the Writ of Prohibition filed by the CPP, the National Civil Society Council of Liberia (NCSCL) said nationwide consultations with civil society organizations across the length and breadth of Liberia has established that holding the referendum as scheduled alongside the elections would have caused the country more harm than good.

Moreover the Civil Society Council appears  to support the CPP’s argument that “if more than one proposed amendment is to be voted upon in a referendum, they shall be submitted in such manner that the people may vote for or against them separately.” 

The CPP had also argued that if the referendum goes ahead, all three (3) propositions to reduce the tenures of the President and representatives from six to five years, and the senators from nine to six years—would have one “Yes” or “No” voting option.

In such a case, they argued, “there would have been no way for a voter to cast their ballot individually on each preposition”.

They further maintained that the lack of adequate public education and awareness on the proposals rendered unconstitutional any choice made along such lines as framed in the proposals arguing that such was “tantamount to a deliberate attempt to entrapping the voter to a pre-determined outcome”.

However, such expressed concerns are, it appears, of little import to the NEC Board of Commissioners whose chairperson has declared that the referendum will go ahead despite the Supreme Court’s decision prohibiting it. 

And it appears, according to political observers,  she has support from the highest political level sufficient enough to clothe her with the temerity to offer such affront to the Supreme Court declaring that the referendum will go ahead as planned despite the prohibition slammed on it by the Court.

By all accounts, the NEC Chairperson, Davidetta Browne Lansanah is proceeding wrongly and recklessly according to several leading lawyers (names withheld) and she will ultimately be held to account for the confusion which is certain to follow.

And they cited what they call NEC’s bogus claims of registering 299,000 out of a projected 300,000 new voters as a key contributing factor compounding the clean-up of the VR which according to them is highly unlikely to be completed before the December 8 elections date.

Whatever the case, the tension is rising by the day and as the Daily Observer has repeatedly and consistently maintained, at the end of the day, it will all come to bear on President Weah as head of this nation.

It is there, in his court, the ball will come to rest and he should remain ever mindful of this.

As it appears, the die is cast but the omens do not look good for a free, fair, transparent and above all, peaceful election. He should therefore “Beware the ides of December”.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Why African leaders consitently refuse to learn from history, from the experiences of other presidents placarded all over the place some very unsightly and to their very demise, is dumbfounding! Why resist something as impersonal as cleaning a VR for the smooth conduct of elections in your country, something that will even add to the smooth functioning of your administration and instead, support ill-advised reckless decisions of your NEC in continuously trouncing the mandate of the Supreme Court? The Supreme Court of all courts, for crying out loud. Why? Sadly and very regretfully for the rest of us and in the grand scheme of things, president Weah and the NEC don’t see or relaize the reciprocal implications of these dense behaviors. If only these one-dimensional losers could entertain the looming possibility of the very Supreme Court or ECOWAS that they disregard today, to be their most redeeming refuge and soon, perhaps they will smell that coffee and tread accordingly. And when that time comes calling, the Supreme Court or ECOWAS will then reference those prior misguided resorts to advise their action or inaction. It’s called stare decisis in law.

  2. We Liberians just need to THINK and PRAY before we vote. Or it will be Too late when we VOTE before we think and pray. we stay have time 15 days to go.

    Oh God, please help every Liberia to think before we vote, so we can’t vote before we think and pray to prevent us from getting in the streets after voting.

    Amen.

  3. Mr. Editor, you are telling us that ”Just which law(s) she (the NEC’S Boss) had referenced to support her assertion remains unclear”. As usual, you must be concealing the laws the NEC Boss referenced to you in order to keep readers or the public in general in the dark. Because as an editor, it is your duty to obtain the citation of that law or stipulation to have us informed.

  4. Liberianobserver, after perusing the comments of others here, I have been able to observe that your information on the referendum contradicts that of Frontpageafricaonline.

    ACCORDING TO YOU LIBERIANOBSERVER, ”THE SUPREME COURT HAS BARRED THE NEC FROM HOLDING THE REFERENDUM ALONGSIDE THE DECEMBER 8, 2020 ELECTIONS”.

    BUT ACCORDING TO FPA, THIS IS NOT THE CASE, EXCEPT THAT….

    ”The Supreme Court has ordered the National Elections Commission (NEC) to ensure that all eight propositions mentioned in the joint resolution of the Legislature that sanctioned the need for a referendum appear on the ballot paper.”

  5. Daily Observer,
    Your news paper was one of the most outstanding, credible, balanced and respected news outlet in the Republic of Liberia. What is going on mehn???
    Your duty is to report the news with evidence that are based on facts. You should not be creating your own news.
    The Supreme Court ruling was very cleared. For example; separate the propositions, and let each one be placed on a separate ballot with a YES or NO column.
    The above ruling of the Supreme Court was intended to give each voter an opportunity to vote on each of the propositions separately.

    You need to work harder with your Judicial Reporter, who is assigned at the Temple of Justice in order to cover current news from that entity.

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