By Jackson C. Clay, Jr.
The plenary of the Liberian Senate is said to be shielding the National Elections Commission (NEC) over what appears to be a constitution violation on the part of the NEC.
This action was seen visible during Thursday’s sitting by Senators including the President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Sen. Albert Chei.
When the issue of why the NEC is yet to conduct the by-elections in the two counties within the statutory period came on the floor, Senate Pro-Temp and other Senators including Gbleh-Bo Brown, Dan Morais and Milton Teahjay of Maryland and Sinoe counties began to speak for the NEC, thereby, providing reasons why the NEC has failed to conduct the by-elections
Following their explanations, Pro-Tempt Chie hurriedly took a Yea/Nay votes preventing the NEC from appearing before plenary and that the matter be turned over to the leadership of the Liberian Senate, leaving other senators who were not in favor of such action by the Pro-Tempt disenchanted.
Those Senators include, Oscar Cooper, Varney Sherman, Daniel Naatehn and Thomas Grupee of Margibi, Grand Cape Mount, Gbarpolu and Nimba counties respectively.
Senator Oscar Cooper of Margibi County, raised a concern the delay of the conduct of the by-elections in both Montserrado and Bong Counties, something he termed as constitutional violation on the part of the NEC.
Sen. Cooper stated that this action on the part of the NEC is tantamount to contempt, therefore that electoral body should appear before plenary and give reason why they should not be held in contempt.
“We should not set a bad precedent. Our people in the other two counties should be represented and constitutional violation must be taken seriously and precedent should not be set. The constitution is our organic law that guards all of us, and I asked this body that we call the NEC why are they in bridge of the constitution,” Sen. Cooper stressed.
For his part, Senator Varney Sherman recounted that he has earlier written the leadership of the Senate to summon the NEC foe what he considers as usurping of function by the NEC.
The Senate Committee Chair on Judiciary indicated that legally, the NEC has no right to postpone the elections without consulting the legislature, something he termed as gross violation on the part of the NEC and as such they should be brought before plenary to provide reasons for their action.
However, the NEC has stated that all is now set for the conduct of the by-elections in the two counties, thus, government has provide additional funding for the elections process.
The funds which is in the tone of one million, nine thousand, nine hundred thirty-eight United States dollars (US$1,009,938.00) was made available to the NEC through cheque on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.
It can be recalled that the Liberian Senate, in keeping with the constitution and its by-laws informed the National Elections Commission (NEC) of vacancies within that body which was occasioned by the elections by the current President and vice President, Ambassador George Weah and Jewel Howard Taylor of Montserrado and Bong Counties respectively.