LIBERIANS AND THEIR INTERNATIONAL friends, who are closely following every step of the way, the country’s electoral processes, waited eagerly a week for the Supreme Court to hand down its final ruling in the Bill of Exception case filed before the five Justices of the Court by the Liberty Party, along with its collaborating political parties.
THAT ONE WEEK, FROM THURSDAY, November 30th when the Court heard the final arguments from both legal teams to Thursday, December 7, the day the Justices gave the Court’s opinion, ordinary Liberians were worried as the prices of basic commodities, including gasoline, rose dramatically.
MOST OF THESE LIBERIANS blamed the hike in the prices on the ongoing legal battle, which had been initiated by Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine’s Liberty Party and was added on by Vice President Joseph Boakai’s Unity Party, Alexander Cummings’ Alternative National Congress and Benoni W. Urey’s All Liberian Party.
THOSE LIBERIANS HAD failed to realize that the legal wrangles were the best steps in shaping Liberia’s forward march towards being recognized as a democratized nation in which the rule of law becomes the order of the day.
DESPITE THAT, MOST LIBERIANS and their international partners got to the realization that Liberia and Liberians are now on the right path to honoring the tenets of democracy following the Supreme Court’s ruling last Thursday; leaving us to ask the above question: ‘Have we arrived?’
‘HAVE WE ARRIVED’ OR ‘HAVE ARRIVED’ is an idiomatic expression meaning “to have achieved success and become famous.” In this case with our nation’s democratization, we are asking if we have arrived now after achieving that feat in our acceptance of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
FOLLOWING THE JUDGMENT that day, Liberians from all walks of life, began giving their opinions/interpretations of what they think the Court had said. One thing is still very clear: overwhelmingly, everyone praised the nation’s highest court for the verdict that has been described ‘fair and balanced.’
EVEN THOSE, WHO MAY have reservations about the ruling, have all stated publically that they are going to abide by the ruling and that they respect what the high court had mandated and ordered.
THE SUPREME COURT, in its ruling, acknowledged that the first round of the country’s Presidential and Legislative Elections, which were held on Tuesday, October 10, 2017, were, to some extent, characterized by fraud, irregularities and disregard of the New Elections Law.
HOWEVER, THE COURT in its 4 to1 opinion/ruling, said it has not been established that such malpractices were on a scale that warrants a rerun of the entire elections as requested by the Appellants—Liberty Party and Unity Party— which made the allegations in their Bill of Exception after the Hearing Officer and the Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission (NEC), had denied them everything they sought.
“THAT NOTWITHSTANDING our findings that indeed there were some irregularities, fraud, and violations of the New Electoral Law, as well as Rules and Regulations of the NEC, we hold that there is no evidence to show that those violations were in such magnitude that they rose to such level to warrant setting aside the results of the Presidential and Representative Election held on October 10, 2017 and ordering a rerun,” said Associate Justice Philip A. Z. Banks, III, who read the ruling on behalf of the Bench.
HOWEVER, ONE OF the five Justices, His Honor Justice Kabina Ja’neh, disagreed with his four colleagues on the Bench and following the reading of the opinion of the Court, was given time to read his dissenting view in which he told his colleagues that once they had agreed that were some “dirt” on the process, the honorable thing to have been done by the Court was to annul the results of the entire October 10th Presidential and Legislative Elections and order a rerun.
NEVERTHELESS, JUSTICE Ja’neh still had to go by what his four friends had agreed on because they were in the majority.
THIS IS THE BEAUTY OF our democracy in which the rule of law is beginning to take a stronghold. Let’s embrace it and do all to cherish, nourish and care for it as we are arriving gradually but we are still a long way to fully “arrived.”