WHEN KENYA SUPREME COURT annulled the result of the country’s August 8 vote, it was termed one of the most decisive victories for Africa’s democracy. In the High Court’s four-against-two decision, the East African nation wrote its own name in the history books.
MONTHS EARLIER, NO ONE would have envisaged such a landmark judgment in a nation still recovering from brutal post-election violence on a continent infamous for law bending. Even though the aftermath witnessed lots of political twists and turns prompting the opposition candidate to abandon the contest for the nation’s top seat, that verdict has set the bar high for many high courts on the continent.
IN AFRICA’S OLDEST INDEPENDENT nation, the stakes are high ahead of a massive hearing and subsequent ruling by the Supreme Court into allegations of elections irregularities and fraud by an opposition political party that is also receiving backing from several political parties including the ruling party. Recent decisions by the National Elections Commission hearing officer and Board of Commissioners against the Liberty and Unity Party’s arguments following extensive and exhausting legal process ignited more debates from both sides of the political divide.
LEGAL MINDS WOULD argue that public sentiments don’t matter and that the law is the law. That is exactly correct! It is only the law that defines us differently from a multitude of savages, so it is time for the true essence of the law to prevail in order to serve the overall good of the people it was crafted to defend and protect.
THE SUPREME COURT HAS all the wisdom in the land as far as interpreting the laws is concern. What they say becomes law and the interpretation exclusively lies in the wisdom of their discretion. Therefore, as custodians of the law, the High Court must be reminded that their decision on the appeal of the LP and the UP would have a long lasting effect on our country.
CRITICS OF LIBERIA’S LEGAL SYSTEM have bashed the Liberty Party, NEC and Supreme Court drawing their inspiration from either flawed or rational analysis since the inception of this milestone case. But to see the process transition from one station to the high court without any major incident speaks volume and will go down in history.
FOR US, IT’S A TRIUMPH FOR OUR democracy regardless the impending verdict. We believe the legal process is being significantly tested and by the end of the day, this might be a rejuvenation of a political dispensation where there would be limited inklings about our justice system.
WE EXPECT THE COURT to deliver a judgment without fear or favor reverberating the strides we have made to solidify our democracy. However, democracy should not only satisfy the needs of society's elites - the few who have the wisdom to distinguish right from wrong – It’s about the collective decision of the masses even if their decision may not always seem right. The ability to cope with it, tolerate it and embrace it defines the true meaning of democracy.
IT HAS BEEN A VERY NECESSARY legal haul but our democracy might be too fragile to absorb any political squabbles of a constitutional crisis following the end of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s second tenure.
ARTICLE 50 OF LIBERIA’S CONSTITUTION states: “The President shall be elected by universal adult suffrage of registered voters in the Republic and shall hold office for a term of six years commencing at noon on the third working Monday in January of the year immediately following the elections.”
THEREFORE, THE ONLY ALTERNATIVE to avoid such a crisis is the ballot box and as many Liberians continue to lament the socio-economic ramifications of the legal proceedings which have created uncertainties for local business and raise concerns over the security of the state.
THIS IS ONE OF THOSE periods that would go down in our history and it requires either making or endorsing a Supreme Court’s decision that doesn’t represent partial political victory but seeks the holistic interest of the motherland. A kind of legal outcome void of thwarting the democratic trajectory we have endeavored over the past decade.
WE WILL BE WRITING OUR own history as we peacefully and independently – void of foreign intervention – solve the electoral impasse according to our laws.