Monrovia – There is growing unease across Liberia over political parties’ refusal to abide by Liberia’s electoral law, throwing into doubt the prospect of a free, fair and transparent election in October.
It follows the decision of the National Elections Commission (NEC) to bar multiple candidates – who are in violation of the Code of Conduct – from standing. Parties have dismissed the rulings and appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Code of Conduct – signed into law in 2014 – clearly states that all officials appointed by the President shall not “engage in political activities, canvass or contest for elected offices”. Those wishing to contest must resign from office at least two years prior to the date of the election.
On Tuesday, Unity Party (UP) candidate Abu Kamara’s case was thrown out by the Supreme Court. Mr. Kamara – a member of the governing party of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – still holds the Assistant Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Post Telecommunications. In attempting to stand for parliament, Justice Banks accused the plaintiff of “pretending like the Code of Conduct doesn’t cover you”.
Charles Brumskine’s Liberty Party has also made an appeal to the Supreme Court, after the NEC’s decision to reject their Vice Standard Bearer.
Mr. Karnwea was refused on the grounds that he held the position of managing director of the Forestry Development Authority(FDA) up until March this year. A ruling is expected next week.
Following the cases at the Supreme Court, the All Liberian Party (ALP) has once again appealed to the other parties to sign their joint party statement for free, fair and transparent elections.
The document – and the signatories to it – pledges to, “Strictly abide by the Liberian Constitution and the electoral law”.The governing party has refused to sign the statement.
The October election is seen by many as historically important for Liberia. It will be the first democratic transfer of power since William Tubman was elected in 1944.
Commenting, Senior Advisor Mr. George Solo stated:
“We have come to expect these kinds of appeals from the Liberty Party, but the Governing Party should be championing the electoral law – which they themselves voted for in 2014.
The fact that Mr. Kamara would even register as a candidate – while holding an appointed office – beggars belief."
"To then appeal his rejection by the NEC at the Supreme Court demonstrates just how sincere this Government is about delivering a free, fair and transparent election.
“The people of Liberia are tired of the government’s corruption and ineptitude."
"The blatant disregard of electoral law demonstrates the desire of incumbent party to cling to power by any means necessary – legal or otherwise.”
Commenting on the joint party statement, ALP Presidential Candidate Dr. Benoni Urey said:
“We continue to hold out this joint party statement to all those who wish to sign it. The document contains modest pledges that any party that calls themselves democratic should endorse. The citizens of Liberia deserve this assurance from those who wish to represent them.”