Liberia: Chairman-designate Still on Hold, Five Commissioners Reportedly Confirmed by Senate Com’tee
MONROVIA – FrontPageAfrica has been reliably informed that the Senate Committee on Autonomous Agency has submitted its report that tends to suggest confirmation for five of the six nominees to the National Elections Commission. According to the information, only the chairman-designate.
Report by Henry Karmo, [email protected]
Sources in the Senate informed FrontPageAfrica that of all eight members committee members have signed the report even though the content of the reports for individual nominee has not been disclosed to the public.
However, in a telephone interview with Senator Milton Teahjay, Chairman of the Committee, he denied that such has happened but said, the committee is working on it and a decision would be made by today by plenary of the Senate.
“As of now we are still working on the report nothing has been done definitively but it appears that some will be confirmed and some will not be confirmed. By tomorrow [today] morning we might make some decision,” Sen. Teahjay said.
On Monday, at the end of the committee’s engagement with political parties, Sen. Teahjay announced that on Tuesday, April 1, the committee will continue with confirmation hearings for the Chairman-designate.
The confirmation proceedings by members of the Senate Committee on Autonomous Agency took what many saw as an unprecedented twist when committee members chose to seek political parties’ input in the confirmation of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission (NEC).
Senator Teahjay of Sinoe County saw it prudent to solicit the opinion of political parties and civil society organizations. Many saw the initiative as welcoming but there was no guarantee whether their opinion would be taken into consideration.
The political parties present at the hearing were Liberty Party (LP), Alternative National Congress, (ANC), the Unity Party (UP) and the True Whig Party. The ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) also took a position on the debate.
“As of now we are still working on the report nothing has been done definitively but it appears that some will be confirmed and some will not be confirmed. By tomorrow [today] morning we might make some decision”– Senator Milton Teahjay, Chairman, Senate Committee on Autonomous Agency
Each political party was allowed to speak to the conscience of the Senators on why or why not the nominated chairman and commissioners of the NEC should be confirmed.
All the opposition parties present recommended to the committee that nominees including the Chairman, the Co-Chair and the other commissioners to include; Floyd Sayon and Josephine Kou Gaye be rejected.
For the Liberty party, represented by its Secretary-General, Jacob Smith, pleaded with Committee members not to confirm the individuals because they are not going to represent the national interest.
“We plead with this Honorable Committee and by extension the Liberian Senate to deny the confirmation of the chairman-designate, Mr. Floyd Sayon as well as Ms. Kou Gaye because in our estimation, these individuals are there to propagate the interest of a particular individual and not in the national interest which is not good for a country emerging from a period of war.”
The UP’s position presented by Amos Toweh and Mo Ali was specific about Mr. Floyd Sayon, former head of the NEC database whom they accused of being a “fraud” and requested his rejection to avoid future challenges.
UP: “What the Director of the Data Center did as per his records at the NEC shows that he is compromised. This man has been involved with fraud in every election under his watch. We ask that Mr. Floyd Sayon be rejected by this Committee to head the data center of the National Elections Commission (NEC).
“Most of our problems in this country have been as a result of a fraudulent election or irregularities that occur during elections. We will be dumping our Constitution if we are to allow these individuals to preside over elections.
“We’re asking this honorable senate to reject three persons; the chairman, Floyd Sayon who has proven that he is a fraud, and Josephine Kou Gaye who has told you she is not qualified for the position.”
In the ANC argument, they accused the chairman-designate of committing forgery and should be recommended for the prosecution at the Supreme Court.
ANC: “The ANC is saying the chairman should not be confirmed because he has committed forgery, fraud. He is not a Liberian, because the certificate provided this committee provided evidence of his citizenship. Section 21.7 of the nationality law states that a certificate must have a number of petition on the certificate, the certificate must clearly describe the person, age and former nationality on that certificate, it is not there because it was obtained by fraud.
“Section 2.2 of the election law clearly disqualifies Mr. Sayon because of his lack of integrity, and his failure to take instruction. He has integrity issues and should not be allowed to serve as a commissioner at the NEC. For Madam Josephine Gaye, she said her only experience is that she voted as a registered citizen of Liberia.
“We ask you to kindly refuse these individuals based on the law. The Committee should recommend him for criminal investigation. We are going to petition the Supreme Court to denounce his certificate to practice law. We, the ANC, don’t ask you to make a decision based on sentiment but based on the law the people we named are not qualified.”
“We plead with this Honorable Committee and by extension the Liberian Senate to deny the confirmation of the chairman-designate, Mr. Floyd Sayon as well as Ms. Kou Gaye because in our estimation, these individuals are there to propagate the interest of a particular individual and not in the national interest which is not good for a country emerging from a period of war.”– The Unity Party
In response to the LP and other opposition Parties (CDC), Chairman Morlu described as unprecedented the decision by the Senate to invite political parties to a hearing before confirming or denying a nominee appointed by the President. In his argument, he said the Constitution gives the President appointing power and the Senate rejection of confirmation powers.
“Morlu: Honorable Senators, let me go on the record that the precedence you have set to invite political parties at a confirmation hearing is a dangerous precedence. It is my view that this Senate is honorable and that your views will not be influenced by politics and sentiments to extract the Senate’s obligation to confirm a nominee of the President.
“Political parties should be made to channel their grievances through the office of the chairman of the committee. All the concerns raised by political parties in the opposition are driven by politics and propaganda.
“We do not have interest in a particular person nominated to perform services at the NEC because the two years records of the CDC conducting by-elections have proven to be credible. We are a democratic institution that believes in strategizing our tactics after losing; we are not interested in rigging election or cheating.”
Chairman Morlu argued that all the elections being conducted under the leadership of President Weah have been done transparently and freely. He referenced the election that elected Senator Darius Dillon to the Senate as one of the tangible evidence.
“The insinuation that officials are being appointed with the purpose of stealing elections is baseless and it’s propaganda that offers total falsehood that has no place in the honorable chambers.
“We cannot be wasting the Senate’s time because we cannot change the way you feel about us because the facts are documented and are many. The assertion by the LP that we recommended Madam Davidetta Brown Lassana to the NEC under the former leadership is false because LP supported Jerome Korkoyah who is an American with his record of voting in the US.
“Is it constitutional for the president to make an appointment? The answer is and will always be ‘yes’. Are the nominees not qualified as required by the Constitution? The answer is no so there is no basis for us to have this agreement.”
Speaking to the True Whig party’s statement about the NEC chair-designate, Morlu said, the allegation that a nominee lacks moral as made by Reginald Goodridge is probably obtained from Facebook. “The history of opposition to nominees to head the elections commission is a normal political undertaking. It has always been a part of our political exercise,” he said.
“We do not have interest in a particular person nominated to perform services at the NEC because the two years records of the CDC conducting by-elections have proven to be credible. We are a democratic institution that believes in strategizing our tactics after losing; we are not interested in rigging election or cheating.”– Mulbah Morlu, Chairman, Coalition for Democratic Change
The politics of citizenship is not new
Morlu, like many other supporters of the CDC’s administration, argued that there’s no evidence that any of the nominees is a foreigner. He found it interesting that the True Whig party joined the opposition’s chorus in “twisting facts out of context and spewing deliberate falsehood”.
He added: “In the same vein, Liberty Party’s hypocrisy cannot be covered when they were quiet as one of their partisans took the elections commission confirmation as chairman, Jerome Korkoya.