On Tuesday, October 22, the Chairperson of Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) formally announced a runoff election between President/Candidate George Manneh Weah and former Vice President/Candidate Joseph Nyuma Boakai.
The runoff, NEC Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah said, will be held on the second Tuesday, November 14, 2023, contrary to Constitutional provision Article 83 B &C of the Liberian Constitution. She immediately declared campaign activities for the runoff open.
Article 83 B & C states: (B) All elections of public officers shall be determined by an absolute majority of the votes cast. If no candidate obtains an absolute majority in the first ballot, a second ballot shall be conducted on the second Tuesday following. The two candidates who received the greatest numbers of votes on the first ballot shall be designated to participate in the run-off election; while (C) states that ‘the returns of the elections shall be declared by the Elections Commission not later than fifteen days after the casting of ballots.”
“Any party or candidate who complains about the manner in which the elections were conducted or who challenges the results thereof shall have the right to file a complaint with the Elections Commission. Such complaint must be filed not later than seven days after the announcement of the results of the elections.”
‘The Elections Commission shall, within thirty days of receipt of the complaint, conduct an impartial investigation and render a decision which may involve a dismissal of the complaint or a nullification of the election of a candidate. Any political party or independent candidate affected by such decision shall not later than seven days appeal against it to the Supreme Court.’
‘The Elections Commission shall within seven days of receipt of the notice of appeal, forward all the records in the case to the Supreme Court, which not later than seven days thereafter, shall hear and make its determination. If the Supreme Court nullifies or sustains the nullification of the election of any candidate, for whatever reasons, the Elections commission shall within sixty days of the decision of the Court conduct new elections to fill the vacancy. If the court sustains the election of a candidate, the Elections Commission shall act to effectuate the mandate of the Court.’
The Democratic People’s Party of Liberia said the date set-up bythe National Elections Commission for the November 14 2023 run-off is in violation of the law.
The DPPL National Chairman said November 14 does fall in the date and time stipulated by and in Article 83 (b) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia as supplied hereunder.
According to Atty. N. Dickson R. Tamba, Article 83 b) statesthat, “All elections of public officers shall be determined by an absolute majority of the votes cast. If no candidate obtains an absolute majority in the first ballot, a second ballot shall be conducted on the second Tuesday following, the two candidates who received the greatest numbers of votes on the first ballot shall be designated to participate in the run-off election.”
Atty. Tamba added that this provision of the Constitution is clear on its face and needs no further interpretation. “It says and mandates the Second Tuesday following and this takes effect as of the final announcement and declaration of the Run-off by the NEC.”
“Clearly, the counting starts today and so the second Tuesday following is November 7, 2023, The Democratic People’s Party of Liberia requests the National Elections Commission (NEC) to change the Run-Off date to November 7, 2023 which is the Constructional date and time to avoid running into Constitutional Crises which might render the elections if held on the 14 a legal nullity.”
He said If and when the NEC does not change the date to November 7, DPPL and other like-minded Political Parties will file before the Supreme Court of Liberia Petitions for Writs of Prohibition to stop NEC from proceeding and Mandamus to compel NEC to act in the confines of the law.
“We do not want an interim government. The authority to change a constitutional date or time is vested only in the National Legislature and that can be done by way of a Resolution in the absence of National Referendum.” The party averred.
For the opposition Unity Party (UP), in a communication to the National Elections Commission (NEC), expressed several concerns on the conduct of the just ended October 10, 2023 general and presidential elections.
In a two-page communication to the NEC, UP outlined several concerns including the huge numbers of invalid votes across the country discovered during the vote counting process and further noted that for example in Maryland County there were record of counts from ballot boxes counted on the night of the elections among other things included in the communication to NEC.