Liberia: House Launches Inquest Over Fate of Liberia’s New Elections Law Amid NEC’s Unprecedented Requirements


CAPITOL HILL, Monrovia – The House of Representatives has mandated its Judiciary Committee to investigate the status of the New Elections Law that was passed by both the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate.

The decision was triggered by a request from Rep. Richard Nagbe Koon (UP, District #11, Montserrado County) through a communication to the plenary via the office of House Speaker Bhofal Chambers.

Gerald C. Koinyeneh – [email protected]

In his communication read in plenary, Rep. Koon said, since the law was passed by both chambers and forwarded to the President for signature in October 2022, it has not been signed by him and printed into handbill as stipulated by the Constitution of Liberia.

The bill in question was passed by the House of Representatives on September 13, 2022 and forwarded to the Liberian Senate three days later on September 16, 2022 for concurrence. Upon receipt of the bill by the Senate, a joint conference committee of both Houses was set up to review the amended law, and after several deliberations, the Senate concord with the House of Representatives and this instrument was forwarded to the President on October 25, 2022.

Rep. Koon, citing several constitutional provisions, said the President’s refusal to act on the bill since it was forwarded to him more than three months ago automatically makes the bill a law.

“It’s nearly three months now since this instrument was submitted to the President’s office for approval, it has not been signed and publish into hand bill by the executive,” he said.

Article 35 of the 1986 Constitutions calls for “Each bill or resolution which shall have passed both Houses of the Legislature shall, before it becomes law, be laid before the President for his approval. If he grants approval, it shall become law. If the President does not approve such bill or resolution, he shall return it, with his objections, to the House in which it originated. In so doing, the President may disapprove of the entire bill or resolution or any item or items thereof.”

“This veto may be overridden by the re-passage of such bill, resolution, or item thereof by a veto of two-thirds of the members in each House, in which case it shall become law. If the President does not return the bill or resolution within twenty days after the same shall have been laid before him, it shall become law in like manner as if he had signed it unless the Legislature by adjournment prevents its return.”

Plenary unanimously voted in favor of a motion proffered by Rep. Matthew Zarzar of Sinoe County, authorizing the Judiciary Committee to investigate and report with a set of recommendations within one week.

Request Amid Unprecedented Requirements

The House’s inquiry about the status of the New Elections Law comes as the National Elections Commission (NEC) announced that potential voters will have to show their National ID Card to be eligible for the biometric voter registration exercise.

Since the pronouncement, there has been brewing fear among members of the public and political parties that many Liberians may be left disenfranchised should the NEC heavily rely on the use of National ID Cards as proof of citizenship for Biometric Voter Registration.

The NEC early this month announced that Voter Registration would commence on March 20 and will run up to May 11.

Although, the NEC did not clarify if it is already using the New Election Law as passed by the Legislature, the law mandates the NEC to set up guidelines for voter registration and other exercises for the smooth conduct of the elections.

In addition, Rep. Koon also wants the House to ascertain if the NEC will premise the conduct of the ensuing October 2023 elections on the 2022 Reform Elections Law given that the Economic Community for West African States(ECOWAS) recently made a passionate appeal to all its members states to not alter its election law six months prior to election to avoid political tension like the case of Guinea and the Ivory Coast.