Liberia: Senate Judiciary Chair Expresses Reluctance Over Plan to Reschedule October elections
Henry Karmo [email protected]
Monrovia – Senator Varney Sherman(Unity Party, Grand Cape Mount County), chair on the Senate Judiciary Committee has expressed reservations regarding plans to reschedule the October 15, 2020 special Senatorial election.
“For me I am very reluctant to change a date legislated by the legislature and unfortunately we have been changing elections date since 1985. 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.”Senator Varney Sherman(Unity Party, Grand Cape Mount)
December as been requested by the Executive branch of government. However, Senator Sherman said Thursday when he conducted a public hearing for commissioners of the National Elections Commission, that he is reluctant. “For me I am very reluctant to change a date legislated by the legislature and unfortunately we have been changing elections date since 1985. 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.”
The Grand Cape Mount Senator also told officials of the elections commission that there are many uncertainties in their request to postpone the October 15 elections to December 15 and called on them to help reduce the uncertainty.
The Senate Judiciary Chairman also recommended that the NEC officials work with the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) to ensure that some of the procurement regulations are relaxed, giving way to discussions between the NEC and service providers that have previously done business with the NEC to pre-finance some of the activities of the NEC to avoid delay.
Senator Sherman averred: “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 years pre-finance some of these activities or ask some of the banks that the NEC is dealing with to pre-finance some of the activities in a form of an agreement.”
In a communication to the senate recently, President Weah said, he had been informed by the elections commission about the impossibilities to conduct the pending mid-term election and referendum on the constitutional date which is the second Tuesday of an election year.
According to the President’s communication, the reason for the postponement is because 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 commenced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“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.”
Thus, the President said, it may seem obvious that due to the factors outlined, the October 13, 2020 Special Senatorial Elections will not be held. As such the NEC has suggested December 15, 2020 as an ideal date to conduct elections and referendum.”