Liberia: CPP Chairman to Reject Senatorial Election Deferment Beyond December 2020
MONROVIA – The chairman of the opposition political conglomeration, the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), says the CPP will not accept any midterm election beyond December 2020.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
Mr. Alexander Cummings said while he understands that the coronavirus pandemic could cause some delays for the mid-term senatorial election constitutionally slated for October 15 this year, it would be unjust to it to be pushed to 2021 as being requested by the government.
“The CPP will not accept the election any date later than December 25, 2020. To be fair and reasonable, we can argue that coronavirus could put some delay the same way it happened in 2014 during Ebola Virus, but we will insistent, we will demand that the election does not go beyond December 2020,” said Mr. Cummings when he made his debut appearance on the Costa Show as chairman of the CPP on Monday.
He added, “It will unacceptable, it will be unconstitutional – this will be a constitutional crisis. So, we will do anything within our means, within the law to ensure that elections take place no later than December 2020.”
He said the CPP is targeting at least 10 of the 15 seats for the Senate in the upcoming election.
“The CPP will not accept the election any date later than December 25, 2020. To be fair and reasonable, we can argue that coronavirus could put some delay the same way it happened in 2014 during Ebola Virus, but we will insistent, we will demand that the election does not go beyond December 2020.”– Alexander Cummings, Chairman, Collaborating Political Parties
According to Cummings, the numerical strength of the CPP which was recently solidified, gives the opposition bloc an advantage to compete with the ruling party which has got all the resources rather than the numbers.
Senator Varney Sherman who heads the Senate’s Judiciary Committee had expressed his reluctance to approve the resolution to postpone the election, citing the constant abuse of the Constitution.
During last Thursday’s public hearing on the matter, Senator Sherman said, “For me I am very reluctant to change a date legislated by the legislature and unfortunately we’ve been changing elections date since 1985.”
He added: “We need to get to a place where we don’t tamper with our Constitution very easily because somebody powerful might one day abuse that precedent. What if a President wants to stay longer than his term, he might use precedence from Ebola and COVID-19.”
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NEC had been faced with inadequate financial support for the midterm election. The Commission was already faced with the uncertainty of having the election despite several commitments from the government to make funds available.
At Thursday’s hearing, Senator Sherman recommended to NEC to work with the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) to ensure that some of the procurement regulations are relaxed to give way to discussion between the NEC and service providers that have done business with the NEC to pre-finance some of the activities of the NEC to avoid delay.
“Liberia is a sovereign nation that is going nowhere; we need to have some of these service providers that we have done business with over the year to pre-finance some of these activities or ask some of the banks the NEC is dealing with to pre-finance some of the activities in a form of an agreement.”
In a communication to the Senate President George Weah said, he had been informed by the NEC about the impossibility to conduct the pending mid-term election and referendum on the constitutional date which is the second Tuesday of an election year.
The President’s communication stated that the postponement is caused by a major preparatory activities such as the voter registration update, international procurement, recruitment and training of thousands of temporary staff that should have been completed in a specific time frame are yet to be commence due to COVID-19.
“For instance, international flights have been grounded, borders have been closed and countries are experiencing lockdown – all activities associated with free, fair and transparent election which have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, similarly as was the case in the aftermath of the deadly Ebola virus outbreak of 2014.”