By Ambrose Taplah
It is the right of political parties to seek redress before the Supreme Court after exhausting the procedural remedies of the National Elections Commission (NEC). In this case, the Liberty Party and others have opted to challenge the validity of the October 10, 2017 representatives and presidential Elections before the Honorable Supreme Court. Do you think the court can resolve elections/political issues when the parties are refusing to hold discussions, make concessions and comprises among themselves? Our neighbors are tired to aid and direct Liberians after almost 12 years of stability and peace. We have to look within ourselves for sensible solutions to problems facing our democracy.
We note that no one party or person is greater than the People of Liberia. Who should be the person to lead this charge to save our nation’s integrity, respect and dignity? I will suggest a three person panel that will call on all the contesting parties behind closed doors to discuss their problems using a “win-win” technique of the Alternative Dispute Resolution. Under this hearing procedure, there can no losers, as Liberia becomes the ultimate winner. Apologies and consent of errors will be conceded where applicable and clear with the view of moving the run-off forward. We must look in ourselves and present the best for the country. More so, we should not let this opportunity slide fade away.
The second thing is the Liberty Party’s withdrawal of its lawsuit/complaint before the Supreme Court and National Elections Commission (NEC) in consonance with the meeting. The political parties then will discuss with their representatives/constituents of the need to put Liberia first and be civil in the elections. There will be no name calling, use of profanity and the like on the social media of the participating political parties. This stalemate is affecting our way of life. Is this the way LP wants the ESJ/Unity Party to end its term? I think no.
Under the circumstances, it is important, therefore that we do not sit by and allow the invitation of our neighbors to settle these Elections problems. The problems are made in Liberia. Liberia’s problems are numerous, starting from few accessible roads, lack of adequate training by NEC, lack of numbering of houses/structure and naming of street, no central data basis to deter fraud and the like, inadequate spreading of election information, bad roads conditions in the entire country, trucking of voters by political parties, missing names on the final voting roster, long queues at the precincts, poor lighting conditions, breach of public trust, etc. We need to know from the voting records whether the commissioners of NEC do vote on issues as a body or is the Chairman acting alone, as the Lord of the flies? Some of these problems are short-term, while others are for the long-haul.
Really, there is a daring need for a little overall of the irregularities to the runoff. There must be enough qualified and trained staffers to reduce the waiting time at each polling station. I will suggest the employment of principals and teachers of high moral standards to monitor the various precincts for compliance purposes. As such, the voting process should take not more than 2 hours for voter to be cross-checked in order to vote. Votes from each precinct will be counted and communicated to the NEC on the spot. If for any reason, there are irregularities, such will be addressed by the Magistrates under the 48 hours window leading to the Hearing Officer of NEC in keeping with NEC, Voters Registrations Regulation at Sections 7.2 thru 8.3. The goal here is to promote fairness, fair play and compliance with the law of the land. We must trust but check those in public offices, mainly NEC’s representatives to infuse check and balance.
My point here is we the People must strive to cooperate and consider the pride of the country. It is unfair to our people for some to sit in foreign parts and advocate that the elections not be held and delayed provided “if and only if” all the elections irregularities are resolved. We should not be ungrateful to our beloved President at the end of her term. Let us give the necessary support in reaching and reconciling our differences. We owe that to ESJ and the Liberian people to maintain the stability, peace with no political prisoners. No one person has the solution, but if we can pause, think, and act next time in the interest of everyone, Liberia will thrive.
Many past and present officials of this loved ESJ government want to settle scores on the election issue. Why crucify Madam ESJ in front of the entire world? Who does this ridicule and disrespect help? For example, time limits for individual holding public offices are very long: senators are elected for nine years and representatives for six years with no limitation of terms; the justices of the Supreme Court retire at nurtured age of 70 years; the president is entitled to a two term only (See: Liberian Constitution, 1986). Final fixing of some of the elections problems are for the long haul and may give reasons why many contestants and well-wishers would seek public offices. We cannot discredit the electoral process with all the structural weaknesses this government inherited. We cannot make Ma Ellen to beg the leaders of the political parties to make peace and move the process forward or relies on Article 64 of the Constitution (Head of State Replacement, aka the succession act) for the holding of
elections in 90 day. Today, everything is at a standstill; we have not reached that low to invoke the Article 64. Let us be satisfied with what we have and improve them for the future. Our current system needs much help to keep it afloat and working without anyone using the fragile system to settle scores.
We, the people have nowhere to run making it mandatory for the heads of the political parties to sit down and talk about putting the country first. It is no disrespect that the political system is breakable, as explained in this piece. We do not have an electoral college to cut the chase as oppose to the popular vote. This is an area of vexation and inclusion into our democracy. Liberia is an emerging democracy with many developmental shortfalls and areas for improvements in and after this run-off election. In my thoughts and words, NEC cannot resolve all the irregularities and fraud to the likes of LP without skipping the January 15, 2018 deadlines to constitutionally turnover this beloved and peaceful ESJ lead government to the winner of the runoff. We conclude by saying, “let tal, yah.”