Correcting the NEC blunder regarding presidential candidates [
Mr. Bobby W. Livingstone DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC INFORMATION & OUTREACH National Elections Commission
This is my second attempt. I forwarded this statement to you over the weekend and got no acknowledgement of receipt. Again, please forward the attached statement on the Referendum to the Chairman and Members of the NEC.
Moreover, let me remind you that Liberians need not file challenge against the provisional list of presidential candidates before the NEC carries out its mandate, under the law. You and members of the commission know that many of the names of persons published on the provisional list are ineligible to contest for president in 2011. The NEC blundered big time and did a terrible job in vetting aspirants, perhaps for apparent motive. If the NEC had checked for residency requirement, the NEC could have easily discovered that many persons on the provisional list of presidential candidates are not eligible.
You and the NEC commissioners are also aware of Article 5 (1 & 2 ) of the commission’s
Statement on the Referendum of August 23, 2011 and Qualification of Presidential Candidates
We the undersigned concerned citizens of Liberia, now residing in the United States, hereby extend sincere thanks and appreciation to our fellow citizens at home for the orderly and peaceful manner in which they conducted themselves in the referendum held on August 23, 2011. According to official results, none of the four propositions of the Referendum received the minimum two-thirds majority of votes needed for ratification, including especially Proposition One, which was intended to reduce the residency requirement for presidential candidates from ten to five years.
This tells us that the Liberian people, in the exercise of their franchise, have decided unequivocally against amending their constitution at this time and in the manner proposed by the subject Referendum. This means that the National Elections Commission must now take due notice and govern itself accordingly. In this respect, the Commission’s first responsibility is to review its provisional list of candidates and remove the names of all persons not meeting the ten-year residency requirement, per Article 52 ( C ) of the Liberian Constitution. In any case, there is no question that the Commission committed a serious blunder to have compiled and published a provisional list of candidates that included persons not in compliance withthe residency requirement as above. The NEC must now reverse itself.
After all, it is public information that many of those on the NEC provisional list of candidates, including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Senator Prince Johnson, Messrs Winston Tubman, Charles Brumskine, Dew Mayson,Gbleyah Kennedy Sandy and Hananiah Zoe, all returned to Liberia in 2003 or after. According to the Monday, August 29, 2011 edition of Frontpageafricaonline.com, President Sirleaf returned to Liberia in 2003, after her failed bid for the Interim Presidency and Mr. Charles Brumskine returned to Liberia in 2003 and promptly turned over his American green card; while Mr. Winston Tubman re-located to Liberia in 2004, after resigning from his position as UN Special Representative in Somalia. Obviously, these individuals would not have been included on the provisional list had the NEC carefully screened and vetted the applicants as required by law.
In this regard,Section 2.9 ( n) of the New Elections Law of Liberia requires the NationalElections Commission to “screen all candidates for elective public office and accredit their candidacy, and/or reject the candidacy of anyone who is not qualified” consistent with the National Constitution, the New Elections Law and the NEC guidelines.Section 2.9 (a) of the New Elections Law also requires the Elections Commission to administer and enforce all laws relative to the conduct of elections in Liberia, especially the 1986 National Constitution, and Liberians need not go to court to ensure NEC compliance with our laws. Additionally, the Commission’s mandate is not to interpret the law.
The Commission is also required under Section 15.2 of its own guidelines relating to registration of candidates to “reject a candidate(s) submitted by a political party for any elective public office who is not qualified under the Elections Law or the Constitution, or who does not meet (the requirements of the NEC guidelines.)” Had the Commission complied with Section 2.9 ( n) of the New Elections Law and checked for residency requirement, as well as carefully and diligently scrutinized the list of candidates and the supporting documents submitted by political parties, it would have discovered that many of the persons included on their published provisional list of candidates are constitutionally ineligible to run for president in 2011. One can only surmise that the NEC compiled and published its provisional list of ineligible candidates on the naïve assumption that come hell or high water the Referendum would be ratified – and with flying colors.
In the event, that did not happen and the Commission must now backtrack, thoroughly scrutinize the list and immediately remove the names of all ineligible candidates, notifying them at once of their disqualification, consistent with Article 52 (C ) of the Constitution, Sections 2.9 ( n) and 2.9 (a) of the New Elections Law of Liberia, Sections 15.1 and 15.2 of the NEC guidelines relating to registration of candidates and Article 5 (1 & 2) of the NEC Regulations on Challenges and Complaints. And only if it should transpire that none of the candidates on the provisional list meets the age and residency requirements should we begin to consider possible alternatives to holding the scheduled October 2011 elections. But we do suspect and have reason to believe that there are many others on the provisional list who would meet the 10-year residency and age requirements. The commission must therefore desist from pronouncements and actions that will undercut the mandate of the people as reflected in the referendum result.
In the final analysis, our people have spoken and have categorically rejected Proposition One. It would be a terrible mistake for anyone to attempt any shenanigans or scurrilous moves to reverse the Liberian people’s wishes and decision in the premises. We certainly would not expect the NEC to do anything less than it should to correct the grievous error it has committed in attempting to contravene the Liberian constitution. The Commission cannot afford to undermine our democracy by further calling into question the credibility of the electoral process, as would be the case were the Commission to insist upon qualifying individuals who do not meet the residency requirement under the Constitution. Moreover, considering the enormous pain and suffering endured by our people in recent times, upholding and strengthening our new democracy may be the only effective means of guaranteeinga stable, peaceful and prosperous nation for the benefit of all Liberians, not just for a select few.
Issued this 1st Day of September 2011 in the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Signed:Ambassador J. Rudolph Johnson, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Liberia
Ahmed Sheriff, Concerned Liberian, email@example.com
National Elections Commission (NEC), Liberia
The United Nations Secretary General
The African Union
The European Union
The economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
Mano River Union
The Department of State, United States of America
The Embassy of the United States of America, Monrovia, Liberia
International Foundation for Electoral Systems, IFES
The National Democratic Institute
International Republican Institute
The Liberian & Foreign Media
Regulation on Challenges and Complaints. Article 5 (1 & 2) provides another opportunity for the NEC to correct itself, by investigating whether persons on the provisional list are eligible to run.
You were so forceful in explaining over the weekend that the deadline for challenge has expired but you miserably failed to also explain that under Article 5 (1 & 2), the NEC has a duty to investigate the published provisional list. Your impression that the provisional list is now final because no one challenged it, is not true. Please do not twist the facts about our country’s future.
Our people have continued to suffered for too long because many of our public officials are just self serving, and often manipulate and scheme to satisfy their selfish interest. Public service should be about serving the national interest, and doing the right thing, no matter the individual interest involved. Let the NEC commissioners read Article 5 (1 & 2) of their own regulation, and do the right thing for Liberia. Please note that this email is also copied to the US Embassy in Monrovia, Press Union of Liberia, the Liberian Journal, Frontpageafricaonline.com, Inquirer Newspaper, Daily Observer, The New Dawn Newspaper, In Profile Daily Newspaper, Running Africa, among others. This statement is also being sent to all political parties in Liberia. God bless Liberia.
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