Elections Stalled- ‘Unlawful’ NEC Must Probe Fraud complaint First

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    Runoff presidential election scheduled for today November 7, between the Coalition for Democratic Change’s George Weah and Vice president Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party will not take place until the National Elections Commission concludes investigation and hearing into fraud and irregularities complaints, which the Liberty Party filed with the election body in October.
    Delivering its opinion on a writ of prohibition prayed for by LP, the Supreme Court of Liberia said NEC acted outside the law when it qualifies Weah and Boakai for the runoff and scheduling the vote without addressing doubts cast over the validity of the October 10, elections results.
    “Wherefore, the alternative writ of prohibition ordered issue by the Justice in Chambers is upheld and sustained, and the peremptory writ of prohibition requested by the petitioners is hereby granted. The NEC is stopped and prohibited from conducting the run-off election until the complaint filed by the petitioners is investigated by the NEC and, if needed be, the appropriate appeal process to the Supreme Court of Liberia is availed of and the matter is decided by the Supreme Court,” the unanimous Supreme Court opinion said..
    Given the critical nature of the complaint, subject of these prohibition proceedings, and its implication on the governance of the nation, the NEC is directed to give urgent attention to the hearing and determination of the matter before it, Chief justice Francis Korkpor said when he delivered the opinion Monday.
    The chief Justice said the law requires that the constitution be interpreted in light of the entire document rather than a sequestered pronouncement, because every provision is of equal importance and even where there is an apparent discrepancy between the different provisions, the Court should harmonize them, if possible.
    According to him Article 83 (c) of the constitution of Liberia (1986) sets forth a series of events, all of which are linked together and all of which must be taken into consideration in interpreting what the framers of the constitution intended when they linked the run-off election to expiry of the time provided in Article 83 (c). “ Therefore, the more rational and legal interpretation under judicial construction is that the reference in Article 83(b) to “expiry of the time provided in Article 83(c),” refers to the totality of the events enumerated in Article 83(c), from the announcement of the final results by the NEC to the disposition of any challenge by the Supreme Court.
    The Chief Justice said the constitution requirement as mandated by Article 83(b), that only the two presidential tickets with the greatest number of valid votes cast on the first ballot should be designated to participate in the run-off election; thus, where the votes cast on the first ballot are still subject of allegations of gross irregularities and fraud, etc., before the NEC, the NEC was without legal authority to have designated any two presidential tickets for the run-off election.
    Writes P. Nas Mulbah