PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release

4th May, 2017

Press Release
Press Contact: Barwudu Williams
Mobile: (231) (0)-0777891850/777339248
Email: [email protected]
Facebook Page: facebook.com/eccliberia

MONROVIA, LIBERIA:-As Liberia moves closer to holding its third post-conflict elections, the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) is deeply concerned with the recommendation contained in the report: “The Liberia Electoral System” released in February 2017, by the Governance Commission (GC) calling for the suspension during this election year of Article 52 C of the Liberian Constitution.

In the Executive Summary of the report under the caption: “Recommendations for Immediate Consideration”: Address the 10-year residency requirement stipulated in the Constitution: Twice ruled as inapplicable, there must be a pronouncement on this constitutional provision. Lead responsible parties: NEC and the Supreme Court.

Under the section, “The Code of Conduct Ambiguous Rule of Exclusion”: The report further states: “As in the case of the 10-year residency requirement in 2005 and 2011, it is strongly advised that this rule be suspended and made inapplicable to the 2017 elections even if its constitutional validity is to be upheld”.

While the (ECC) shares the view with many other Liberians that these elections should be peaceful so that there can be a smooth political transition the ECC is also calling on all stakeholders to respect the “Rule of Law” as it is one of the most guaranteed ways by which a peaceful election can be held.

The ECC wishes to remind Liberians:

  1. That only the Courts can decide whether or not a law is applicable or inapplicable in a given situation. In this case, the Supreme Court has the legal authority to decide whether or not the 10-year residency requirement for the presidency can be suspended or deemed inapplicable to the 2017 elections.
  2. The Constitution is the foundational law of the land. We have enjoyed almost 12 years of civil governance and it is deeply troubling at this stage

in our democratic development to hear about calls for the suspension of a provision of the Constitution without proceeding with the legal process.

  1. Provisions of the law (Constitution or Statute) may not be responsive to the current political reality, but they remain the laws until we can change them.
  2. To suspend a provision in the Constitution will require a national referendum.
  3. That in 2011, the Supreme Court handed down an opinion on the 10-year residency clause based on a challenge from a political party on the eligibility of some candidates to contest. The Court ruled against the challenge but did not suspend the provision.
  4. That the 2005 elections were special elections and at that time Article 52 C was suspended to allow everyone to contest and following the elections, the Constitution came into force in 2006.

Our political history has a deficit of the lack of respect for the rule of law and this has the tendency to undermine the peace. In order to strengthen our democracy, all Liberians state and non-state actors must at all-time adhere and uphold the rule of law.

Parties Primaries:

The ECC wishes to commend all political parties that have set dates for conducting their primaries. The ECC will be monitoring the primaries and we wish to encourage all parties to uphold the basic democratic tenets when conducting these primaries. We are also pleading with parties to consider a reduction in the fees that are charged for those seeking to run in the primaries.

Going Forward:

  • There is a need for a comprehensive review and revision of our elections laws including the need to write a new Constitution that is responsive to the current political reality and can stand the test of time.
  • That individuals and institutions that have issues with the current laws must seek to amend them through the proper legal means.
  • That as the political season heightens we call on all the players to respect the rules of the game including opinions handed down by the Supreme Court on electoral matters.

As Liberia moves closer to holding its third post-conflict elections, the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) is deeply concerned with the recommendation contained in the report: “The Liberia Electoral System” released in February 2017, by the Governance Commission (GC) calling for the suspension during this election year of Article 52 C of the Liberian Constitution.

In the Executive Summary of the report under the caption: “Recommendations for Immediate Consideration”: Address the 10-year residency requirement stipulated in the Constitution: Twice ruled as inapplicable, there must be a pronouncement on this constitutional provision. Lead responsible parties: NEC and the Supreme Court.

Under the section, “The Code of Conduct Ambiguous Rule of Exclusion”: The report further states: “As in the case of the 10-year residency requirement in 2005 and 2011, it is strongly advised that this rule be suspended and made inapplicable to the 2017 elections even if its constitutional validity is to be upheld”.

While the (ECC) shares the view with many other Liberians that these elections should be peaceful so that there can be a smooth political transition the ECC is also calling on all stakeholders to respect the “Rule of Law” as it is one of the most guaranteed ways by which a peaceful election can be held.

The ECC wishes to remind Liberians:

  1. That only the Courts can decide whether or not a law is applicable or inapplicable in a given situation. In this case, the Supreme Court has the legal authority to decide whether or not the 10-year residency requirement for the presidency can be suspended or deemed inapplicable to the 2017 elections.
  2. The Constitution is the foundational law of the land. We have enjoyed almost 12 years of civil governance and it is deeply troubling at this stage

in our democratic development to hear about calls for the suspension of a provision of the Constitution without proceeding with the legal process.

  1. Provisions of the law (Constitution or Statute) may not be responsive to the current political reality, but they remain the laws until we can change them.
  2. To suspend a provision in the Constitution will require a national referendum.
  3. That in 2011, the Supreme Court handed down an opinion on the 10-year residency clause based on a challenge from a political party on the eligibility of some candidates to contest. The Court ruled against the challenge but did not suspend the provision.
  4. That the 2005 elections were special elections and at that time Article 52 C was suspended to allow everyone to contest and following the elections, the Constitution came into force in 2006.

Our political history has a deficit of the lack of respect for the rule of law and this has the tendency to undermine the peace. In order to strengthen our democracy, all Liberians state and non-state actors must at all-time adhere and uphold the rule of law.

Parties Primaries:

The ECC wishes to commend all political parties that have set dates for conducting their primaries. The ECC will be monitoring the primaries and we wish to encourage all parties to uphold the basic democratic tenets when conducting these primaries. We are also pleading with parties to consider a reduction in the fees that are charged for those seeking to run in the primaries.

Going Forward:

  • There is a need for a comprehensive review and revision of our elections laws including the need to write a new Constitution that is responsive to the current political reality and can stand the test of time.
  • That individuals and institutions that have issues with the current laws must seek to amend them through the proper legal means.
  • That as the political season heightens we call on all the players to respect the rules of the game including opinions handed down by the Supreme Court on electoral matters.
    # # #
    The ECC is a civil society platform that observes elections in Liberia and works in partnership with the National Democratic Institute with support from USAID. The work of the ECC can also be accessed on facebook.com/eccliberia

Find the pdf of this press release here: Press Statement on Article 52 c_05_4_17

“Respecting the Rule of Law is a recipe for Holding Peaceful Election”.

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