NEC Says Referendum on Course by. R. Joyclyn Wea Koo

Despite the Supreme Court’s  November 18, 2020 verdict prohibiting the National Elections Commission (NEC) from printing referendum ballot papers, the Commission says the referendum will hold contrary to speculation in the public domain that the referendum has been postponed. 

At  a news conference Friday, November 20, 2020, NEC Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah mentioned that the National Constitutional Referendum have not been cancelled nor postponed as inaccurate on grounds that the commission has not failed to meet up with the terms and conditions stipulated in the High Court’s Wednesday ruling.

Flash back of people voting

Lansanah claimed that the commission was mandated by the Supreme Court to print all eight preposition on the ballot paper as prescribed in the constitution and the joint resolution adopted by the National Legislature so as to enable citizens execute their choices on each of the proposed amendment.

Contrary to Lansanah assertion, the High Court in its verdict did not indicate terms and conditions, but rather prevented the NEC from proceeding with the printing of referendum papers as it contravenes the joint resolution of the Legislature and Article 92 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.

 Article 92 of the constitution provides that “Proposed constitutional amendments shall be accompanied by statements setting forth the reasons therefore and shall be published in the Official Gazette and made known to the people through the information services of the Republic. If more than one proposed amendment is to be voted upon in a referendum they shall be submitted in such manner that the people may vote for or against them separately.”

The NEC Chairperson further noted that in the instance where the commission is unable to work within the December 8, 2020 time frame such will be communicated to the public, but as it takes now, it cannot cancelled the referendum because there is still time.

In its Wednesday verdict, the Supreme Court also held that the NEC should not proceed to print any ballot paper that runs contrary to the joint resolution and Article 92 of the Liberian constitution.

It further sated  that until a new gazette consistent with the resolution of the national legislature is published, logos identified for the eight proposed amendments, and public education and awareness conducted on the eight proposed amendments the commission should not precede with the printing of referendum ballot.

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