Chief Kawor, Stop the Interference and Let the Supreme Court Do Its Work

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Recent pronouncement by Chief Zanzan Karwor, leader of the National Traditional Council of Chiefs and Elders, and their collaborators intending to interfere with the critical work before the National Elections Commission and the Supreme Court to adjudicate the allegations of irregularities and fraud that occurred during theOctober 10 elections are a travesty (mockery, charade).

We consider Chief Karwor’s proposal nothing more than yet another subtle attempt by certain powerful people in the country to circumvent the rule of law and undermine the legitimacy of the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of Electoral disputes in Liberia.

While we welcome the concern of the Traditional Council of Chiefs and Elders about current developments in the political process; yet, we find ourselves constrained to question the Chief’s motives for attempting to interfere with the Supreme Court. We ask, since when in our country’s history have the President, the Supreme Court, the Council of Chiefs and interested parties sat together to hammer out issues and resolve matters pending before the Supreme Court?

To the best of every available information, this is unprecedented.

We do, however, recall that the Judiciary and the Legislature have historically been dominated by the Executive, although the Constitution states that the three branches are coequal but separate.  The reality is that the overweening (arrogant, pompous) power of the Liberian Executive has in many instances dominated the other two branches.

Chief Karwor’s suggestion, therefore, simply reveals not only the Chief’s great depth of ignorance about the Constitution. It also exposes his true underlying intent, which is to derail the hearings at the level of NEC and the Supreme Court. And from all indications, Chief Karwor and his “collaborators” are for the most part on government payroll and we all know that “He who pays the piper calls the tune.”

We further recall that throughout the political history of Liberia, especially since the Tubman era, traditional chiefs have been used to drum up public support for the persecution of political ‘enemies’, as well as to present resolutions for continuance in office under the guise of public approval. We remember that almost throughout the Tubman era, numerous resolutions were delivered to President Tubman, shortly following each inauguration, calling on him to succeed himself for “another term of office.”

During the Henry B. Fahnbulleh, Sr. treason trial of 1968, even before he was brought to Court, staged rallies and demonstrations condemning Fahnbulleh were held in Monrovia. Traditional Chiefs played a key role in these demonstrations. We are, therefore, not surprised by Chief Zanzan Karwor’s utterances because he is being paid to do so.  But we are alarmed because they are tantamount to a call for a reckless disregard for the rule of law. Chief Karwor’s call is also disingenuous (insincere, hypocritical) because he chose to be unmindful of the fact that during the prolonged 14-year bloody civil conflict, traditional leaders and their people suffered most, including loss of authority, extreme deprivations such as hunger, life threatening situations, torture, rape, summary executions, massacres, amputations and even cannibalism at the hands of lawless armed gangs.

Moreover, we note that the Traditional Council of Chiefs and Elders has remained unmoved and speechless on the recent armed attack on Liberty Party members in Sanniquellie, public display of uniformed militia units of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) at the Palm Springs Hotel and the stoning of the home of Associate Justice Yuoh by unknown elements.  On the contrary, the Chiefs have suddenly barged into the national discourse, falsely pretending that Liberia is on the brink of crisis.

The 1986 Constitution and the Election Laws of Liberia clearly mandate the Supreme Court to be the final arbiter in electoral disputes.  Let the Supreme Court do its work.  For Heaven’s sake, we Liberians have to take ourselves seriously as the oldest African Republic—170 years old— therefore with the oldest Supreme Court on the continent.

The powers that be must STOP this charade.  Let the Supreme Court do its work.  And we call on the Court to reject any attempt at interference but to go forth and render justice.

Who remembers what National Elections Chairman Emmett Harmon told some Liberians when many of us, including Harmon himself, were in exile in America during the civil war?  He confessed that he rigged the 1985 election because he was afraid that Samuel K. Doe would have spilled a lot of blood had Doe not “won” the election.  Alas! The consequences of Harmon and Doe’s electoral fraud led to far, far worse—a civil war that killed nearly 300,000, internally and externally displaced millions, devastated the country, almost cost us our sovereignty—and we are still today suffering from the war’s deadly denouement (finale).

3 COMMENTS

  1. This is a very powerful editorial Mr. Bali Best. The apple does not fall far from the tree. The Traditional Council of Chiefs has been given powers that are not in our Constitution. They preside over matters that they have no right to preside over and it is all because this administration has inflated their authority. It is good for us to respect our traditional elders and seek their their council, but we must adhere to our Constitution and not allow the administration to use our elders for their own personal gains. Let our people for once in our history see the justice system work in the proper way.

    • Absolutely. We have laws and it should be followed if we aspire to live in a modern society where the rights of every citizen is protected under the law. However, I’m concern that if this litigation continue infinitely then it will harm the democratic process. So we have to be very careful. What is the end game here? Is it to re-run the election or is it fact finding to prevent these things from happening next time? The run-off has to take place in December or there will be major constitutional issues.

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