Political Tension Brewing Over By-Election Delays
Monrovia – The former ruling political party of Liberia has slammed the government for delaying the conduct of the two pending senatorial by-elections, terming the action as “blatant, deliberate and well-orchestrated violation of the Constitution of Liberia”.
In a press statement, Unity Party alleged that the CDC-led government has willfully refused to provide the “necessary funding and logistical support to the National Elections Commission (NEC) to organize by-elections for Bong and Montserrado Counties, respectively”.
The party is also urging political parties, civil society organizations, trade unions, religious community, and diplomatic missions, amongst others, to speak out against “well calculated and flagrant disrespect” violation of the law.
It then called on the CDC-led Government to “jealously” protect adherence to the Constitution and work with Liberians to “preserve the democracy we fought for, a fight in which many innocent lives were lost”.
The statement, signed by its Secretary General Mohammed Ali, cited
Article 37 of the 1986 Constitution which calls for the filling of the vacancy created in the legislature.
According to the Constitution, NEC should have conducted the by-elections after the 90-day period following the February 13, 2018 pronouncement of vacancies by the Liberian Senate.
May 14 then ended the 90-day timeframe for the holding of the elections, but NEC and the government have been embroiled in rigmarole over the availability of funds.
Finance Minister Samuel Tweah rejected the Commission’s US$3.9 million budget and insisted that the government could only afford US$1.5 million.
“While we are interested in obeying the orders of our constitution by holding by-elections to fill vacant public seats that call for election, it is also fair enough to say here that that amount is too huge and not in the interest of the pro-poor agenda of this government,” Tweah said, adding that the MFDP can make available US$1.5 million for the senatorial by-elections in both counties.
But the UP maintains that the expiration of the timeframe without holding the polls is a violation of Article 37 of the constitution by both the government and the electoral body.
“The refusal of the government to provide the necessary financial and logistical support and the inability of the commission in itself under the Chairmanship of Cllr. Jerome Korkoya to organize the two by-elections undermines the right of the people of Bong and Montserrado to representation,” the release said.
“What is even more troubling is the fact that the NEC is yet to set a date for the holding of the two by-elections, an indication that the gross violation of the Constitution of Liberia by this CDC-led government and the NEC is set to continue for a very long time.”
The party alleged that government’s action is a “deliberate” violation of the organic law, which is “well calculated and intended to undermine our hard-earned democracy and the peace we enjoy”.
The former ruling party warned that the “blatant desecration of the Constitution by any government” has the propensity of arming the CDC-led government to become “dictatorial and tyrannical to its own people”.