Liberia: President Weah Loyalist Set For Seat on High Court

Monrovia, 09 Aug 2018: Nominated Associate Justice Senator Joseph Nagbe

Barely 24 hours following the aged retirement of Associate Justice Philip A.Z. Banks, III, from the 5-member Supreme court bench, Liberian President George M. Weah has nominated a partisan and loyalist, Cllr. Joseph Nagbe, to fill the vacancy at the West African country’s court.

Cllr. Nagbe is equally consecutive like septuagenarian Banks who has served in several top positions including Minister of Justice during the past three decades.

Outgoing Associate Justice Phillip A.Z. Banks

As dean of the country’s only law school, the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at state-run University of Liberia in 1983,  Cllr. Blanks served as advisor to the 59-member Constitutional Advisory Committee that watered down the draft national constitution according  to the wishes of dictator Samuel Doe before a referendum approved the document in July 1984.

At the time, Only officials of Doe’s military regime saw the draft before it was passed to the Edward Beyan Kesselly Advisory Committee.

The appointment of Cllr. Nagbe who has been senior senator of the sub division of Sinoe county in southeastern Liberia since 2006, is subject to Senate confirmation.

Nagbe’s exit from the legislative branch now creates two slots for by-elections after Montserrado district #13 Representative Saah Joseph was elected senator for the county on 31 July in a by-election characterized by unprecedented low voter turnout. 

President Weah and his Vice President had openly canvassed for the election of ruling party representative Joseph and his counterpart Josiah Melvin Cole in Bong county to fill vacancies left  at the Senate after Mr Weah and Madam Taylor were elected as President and Vice President respectively last year.

Ruling Party CDC Liberia

Joseph won but Cole lost heavily to former Internal Affairs minister, Dr. Henrique F. Tokpa, thus dimming the influence of Veep Jewel Howard Taylor in Bong County politics.

By Tepitapia Sannah in Monrovia

West African Journal Magazine

Liberians Still Weary Over Unsettled Elections; Want Run-off Held

The weariness of Liberians over the fate of their electoral process now dogged by legal hurdles after four parties sued against results of the first round on 7 October 2017 charging “massive fraud and irregularities” could soon be settled at the apex court in the country.

Liberia Elections
Liberians Display Voting Cards

The opposition Liberty Party sued demanding a rerun of the presidential and legislative elections meant to produce a president expected to succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who was democratically elected, a historic moment since 3 January 1944 when Edwin J. Barclay turned over to William VS Tubman.

Following weeks of legal arguments, the hearing officer at the National Elections Commission adjudged that evidence adduced by lawyers of the Liberty party, the ruling Unity Party as well as opposition Alternative National Congress and All Liberian People’s Party was not sufficient to necessitate a rerun of the poll.

But the aggrieved parties appealed to NEC’s board of commissioners which swiftly upheld the decision. But the Supreme Court, which has seven days to dispose of the matter, has confirmed receiving an appeal from the aggrieved parties against the decision.

Political Parties Leadera in Liberia
Political Leaders in Liberia

Perhaps conscious of the race to beat the 16 January deadline for induration of a new president to avoid a constructional crisis, Liberians are hopeful the court will act expeditiously to pave way for the runoff poll between incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai and opposition leader George Weah who came 28.8 percent and 38 percent respectively in the first round of elections.

Meanwhile, public opinion is divided with youngsters who comprise majority of the population up in arms saying this is the time for Weah who resembles their kind to win while elder citizens on the other hand differ insisting Weah lacks sufficient experience and education to govern Liberia at this time demanding sophistication.

Notwithstanding the protracted court proceedings marked by bitter war of words involving supporters of candidates Weah and Boakai on radio talk shows there has been no reported violence.

By Our Correspondent TK Sannah in Monrovia

Liberia: Liberty Party To Appeal Dismissal of Its Complaint By NEC

MONROVIA (Reuters) – Following the dismissal of its complaint by the electoral commission of Liberia, the opposition Liberty Party (LP) now says it will appeal the decision to the country’s high court.

LP Leader Charles W. Brumskine
LP Leader Charles W. Brumskine

The LP had charged that the October 10th Presidential and General Elections were unfair and flawed with fraud.

The small West African country is now in a political impasse due to the cancellation of a run-off election which was set for October 7th between the candidate of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Senator George M.  Weah and incumbent Vice President and candidate of the ruling Unity Party Joseph N.  Boakai.

The LP placed third in the October 10th elections but maintains that the voting was fraudulent and initially petitioned Liberia’s Supreme Court to halt the run-vote scheduled for November 7th.

Following a hearing before the full bench of the Supreme Court in Monrovia, the Court ordered a stay on the run-off vote and instructed the country’s National Elections Commission(NEC) to hear and dispose of the complaint of the LP.

NEC-Chairman
NEC-Chairman Jerome Korkoyah

In a decision last week, a hearing officer of the NEC  dismissed the LP’s complaint of voting fraud.

The LP says it is not surprised by the dismissal of its complaint by the NEC and vowed to appeal to the country’s Supreme Court.

The current delay in electing a successor to two time incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is threatening a constitutional crisis, if not resolved quickly.

The U.S. and European Union have both called for quick resolutions to  the election impasse and legal issues.

International observers of the October 10th Presidential and General Elections have said there were no major issues which would affect the result of the elections.

West African Journal Magazine

Liberia: New Coalition Discussing “Merger Talks” To Support Boakai

VP Joseph BoakaiPhiladelphia, PA USA – Reports from the Liberian capital Monrovia say four political parties in the small West African nation have been holding “merger talks” in order to support incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai against his Presidential challenger and leader of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Senator George Weah.

Political Subdivision Map of Liberia map
Political Subdivision Map of Liberia

According to a senior source with knowledge of the matter, the merger discussion took place Tuesday, November 7th, the same day planned for run off elections between the two contenders who are hoping to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who is stepping down after two full terms.

The talks include the Liberty Party(LP) led by Senator Charles Walker Brumskine whose party filed a petitition with the country’s highest court complaining of “fraud and irregularities” in the October 10th Presidential and General Elections and to stop the run- off elections between incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP) and Senator George Weah of the CDC.

According to party Chairman of the ruling UP Mr. Robert Kpadeh, ” …What you see today is a strong signal to the world that they are coming together to fight for democracy.”We strongly believe that Weah cannot run this country.”

The UP official did not definitely state who the four political parties are that are holding “merger talks.”

The Liberian Supreme Court has come under criticism for halting the run-off elections’; a situation which could potentially lead to a constitutional crisis, if a new date is not set for the run-off elections and the inauguration of a new President when incumbent President Johnson Sirleaf’s term ends in January. The Supreme Court issued a ruling on Monday which effectively halted the run-off elections and instructed the National Elections to expeditiously handle the complaint of the Liberty Party before a new run-off date can be set.

Vice President Joseph Boakai, the candidate of the ruling Party told the AFP, “I had doubts the NEC was competent enough to administer an election that would be free, fair and transparent.” The party itself has accused President Johnson-Sirleaf of interference in the electoral process.

The Unity Party and Alternative National Congress (ANC) have thrown their support behind the Liberty Party’s petition which cites irregularities and fraud.

A Liberian Woman Being Helped to Cast her Vote
A Liberian Woman Being Helped To Vote

The emergence of a new coalition front involving the ruling party and other political against parties portends political uncertainty for the immediate future in Liberia including speculation of the installation of an interim government. No political party has so far warmed to the idea of an interim mechanism, citing constitutional succession guarantees.

 The CDC says it is concerned that a political crisis could erupt if the Supreme Court annuls the result of the October 10th elections. “We are concerned about attempts by certain members of the Supreme Court’s bench to mis- or wrongfully interpret our constitution, with the view of now creating a constitutional crisis,” CDC Chairman Nathaniel McGill told Bloomberg News by phone. “The election should proceed, that’s what we hope for.”

By Emmanuel Abalo 

West African Journal Magazine

 

Liberia’s Supreme Court Temporarily Halts Run-Off Elections Preparations

Liberian Justices
Liberia Supreme Court Justices

Philadelphia, PA USA: A potential Constitutional crisis is looming in the small West African nation of Liberia with a ruling overnight by the high court halting preparations for the run-elections scheduled for November 7th.The opposition Liberty Party (LP) in a petition filed with the Supreme Court alleged “fraud and irregularities” in the first round of Presidential and General Elections held on October 10th.

Unless the LP can obtain a favorable disposition of their petition and a scheduled re-run of the elections in time to allow for the inauguration of a new Administration, incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will remain in office past her constitutional term which ends in January.

Liberty Party ticket
Liberty Party Charles Brumskine and Harrison Kanwea

The Supreme Court has requested the petitioners, the Liberty Party and counsels for the National Elections Commission (NEC) to appear on Thursday for a hearing. According to the Court, the temporary stay on the pending run-off does not invalidate the results of the October 10th Presidential contest.

The Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led by Senator George Weah came in with 38.4 percent of the votes compared to incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party at 28.8 percent. Both candidates are slated to contest the run-off elections.

Justices of the Supreme Court deliberated late into Tuesday on the LP’s petition and issued the ruling which in effect halts preparation for the run-off elections pending a full hearing into the merits of the petition.

The ruling Unity Party (UP) of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Alternative National Congress (ANC) say they back the position of the Liberty Party.

Three political parties including the All Liberian Party(ALP), the ruling Unity Party (UP) and the lead petitioner in the case Liberty Party (LP) , in a statement issued on Sunday in Monrovia, allege that fraud, interference and irregularities were widespread in the October 10th elections. The Alternative National Congress (ANC) says it supports the Liberty Party (LP) in its petition now pending before the Supreme Court.

President Johnson-Sirleaf’s own party has accused her of interfering with the elections process, surreptitiously meeting with the head of the electoral body and withholding a full throated endorsement of her Vice President Joseph Boakai who is one of many candidates seeking to replace her.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

President Johnson-Sirleaf has rejected the accusations of personal “interference.” Social media is abuzz with various reactions from Liberians; from conspiracy theories of plans to install an interim government to sentiments that the ruling party is maneuvering to remain in office indefinitely.

Reports from Monrovia say police are patrolling areas in the capital Monrovia and there is heavy security presence around the Temple of Justice, the seat of the high court and the offices of the National Elections Commission (NEC).

There is an unusual quietude around Monrovia.
The National Elections Commission says it will abide by the stay order on preparations for the run-off elections.

Reporting by Emmanuel Abalo