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West Africa: Signals From Ecowas Mediation Point to Only One Option for Liberia’s Election Saga

Photo: Nick N. Seebeh/Liberian Observer

From left: ECOWAS Chairman and President of the Republic of Togo, Faure Gnassingbé; President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; and AU Chair and President of the Republic of Guinea, Alpha Condé, at the Excessive desk. The AU and ECOWAS are working to resolve the political impasse that has gripped the Liberian nation since the release of the results of the October 10 polls.

Monrovia — Four political parties – the Coalition for Democratic Alternate, Liberty Birthday Celebration, Various National Congress, All Liberian Celebration and the ruling Unity Celebration, represented By Using their respective usual bearers took turns Wednesday, providing the heads of the industrial Group of West African States (ECOWAS), Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe, and The Top of the African Union, Guinean President Alpha Condé their inputs on the continued elections deadlock as regional leaders are seeking for an amicable solution to Liberia’s elections crisis.

However Whereas many are hoping that the delays within the Courtroom do not push Liberia into an intervening time association, Article 64 of the Constitution gives a by no means-ahead of-used Choice that would entrap the method.

The heads of the two our bodies additionally had separate conferences with the chief Justice and his Supreme Courtroom justices.

Sources aware about the closed-door discussions said Whereas nothing significant resulted from the conferences Wednesday, a communiqué issued stated the entire events agreed to abide By Using the Supreme Court rulings and commit to peacefully resolving all issues.

That Course Of will get below this Friday afternoon when the High Courtroom hears Felony arguments in the Liberty Celebration versus the Nationwide Elections Fee for a Writ of Prohibition.

Showdown at the High Court Docket

Mr. Darryl Ambrose Nmah, Director, Judicial Public Information in a commentary earlier in the week established that the Justice presiding in Chambers of the Court Docket, Justice Kabineh M. J’aneh, has commanded the Marshall of this Court Docket to inform the Nationwide Elections Fee (NEC) and Individuals of the Board of Commissioners of NEC and Charles Walker Brumskine, Harrison S. Karnwea, Presidential & Vice-Presidential Candidates, and all Representative Candidates of Liberty Party to appear sooner than the whole bench at 2pm Friday.

Justice J’aneh has also prompt the Respondents, NEC and its Board of Commissioners to stay any and all movements in respect of the pending Run-OFF elections scheduled for November 7, 2017, pending the disposition Through the Supreme Court Docket of the Petitioners’ Petition.

In response, ahead of the Friday’s hearing, Cllr. Jerome Korkoyah, head of the elections Fee stated Wednesday that the November 7 runoff election is unlikely as the Fee has already started shedding days of preparation due to the temporary Writ of Prohibition on the electoral Course Of issued By Means Of the Supreme Court of Liberia.

“The lack of nowadays as a result of the order already way the November 7, 2017 date that WAS set for the runoff presidential elections does no longer seem conceivable to fulfill,” he advised newshounds at a press convention Wednesday night in Monrovia.

NEC Halts Process, for Now

Korkoyah mentioned previous to the Keep Order, election preparations were on course as ballot papers arrived as scheduled on Twenty Eighth of October 2017 and Whereas packing had been on-going and pollpapers and different delicate supplies were being prepared and dispatched to facilities throughout the u . s ., parts of the shipments of materials had already arrived in Maryland, Grand Kru, River Gee and Grand Gedeh Counties on the time of the order.

Friday’s hearing is likely to offer some indication as to how the Felony wrangle will be resolved.

Attorney Nmah explains that the alternative Writ issued to stay any and all moves in admire of the pending Runoff elections just isn’t a closing Keep order By Way Of the Supreme Court. But relatively, simplest in position except the entire bench can hear and do away with the topic from which a final choice can be made With The Aid Of the bench.

Nmah additionally explained that the choice Writ is just not an annulment of the Presidential and Representatives Elections held on October 10, 2017, as no such election topic has come before the Honorable Supreme Court Docket of Liberia for resolution.

As many Liberians and stakeholders await the High Court Docket’s weigh in on the issue, many are still eager to look how the consult with of both the AU and ECOWAS heads will impact the outcome of those elections.

All this as speculations proceed to mount that the regional physique is pulling all strings to make sure that the electoral Process is freed from violence and chaos.

While many seem upbeat that ECOWAS’s intervention may lead to a speedy and amicable end result, at least probably the most opposition leaders, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine is still relentless in his claims that the elections had been rigged, telling the BBC Focal Point on Africa Thursday that he had the evidence to again up his claims.

“We now understand that the rigging of the elections passed off lengthy ahead of Election Day – going again to the printing of ballots.”

“We now realize that a company WAS ONCE awarded the contract to print ballots in opposition to the choice of the Fee that is answerable for approving public contracts and the ballots that have been printed Through this firm carried no serial quantity in any respect, negating any risk of accountability, creating a space for massive fraud.”

No Relenting from Brumskine

In One incident, Cllr. Brumskine mentioned, he and his Birthday Celebration have proof in their possession displaying that the duvet prime of ballot boxes that have been removed after polling had been closed and ballots had been counted, packing containers had been sealed and the duvet of the cover of the containers were removed to ensure that presiding officers to open the field and put in ballots that they wanted to put in.

“We Now Have some of these covers in our possession, We Now Have submitted into evidence, pictures of these covers to the elections Fee.”

“We discovered a whole bunch of ballots in Grand Gedeh County that had been taken out of the pollbox and thrown away.”

The LP chief argued that ballot officers in Nimba have been arrested because that they had pre-marked ballots that they had been using the stuff the pollcontainers with. George Weah got 1,109 votes at a polling position that Will Have To now not have had more than 500 registered voters.

The Supreme Court after listening to our argument on the following day (Friday) will decide whether or now not Now We Have made a enough case in accordance with the theory of due strategy of law to have the elections begin the 2d round and give us a chance to current our case earlier than the Fee and the supreme Court or the Supreme Courtroom might decide I do not have a case and will subsequently order the Commission to proceed with the second spherical.

Sources aware about the discussions between the ECOWAS heads and political leaders say, Weah WAS ONCE adamant after backing down from irregularities complaints in two previous elections in 2005 and 2011, repeating the same this time around is just not within the cards.

“Weah’s argument WAS he time-honored two Fraudulent elections and for the reason that now is his time, the rest of his opponents Should accept it as smartly,” mentioned a Source talking on situation of anonymity.

The occasions of the past 48 to Seventy Two hours counsel that Liberia finds itself in a fragile political and constitutional catch 22 situation

“I dedicated to the chairman of the African Union and the Chairman of ECOWAS in contrast to 1985 in Liberia when President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf then ran to be Senator of Montserrado County when her Party lost the elections and she and others fell that they had been cheated, they introduced a struggle on our u . s . that value the lack of lives.”

“Our united states WAS totally destroyed. I committed, this time round underneath my management, no longer a single Liberian will likely be killed, a single drop of blood of any Liberian will likely be shed.

Brumskine’s fears were bolstered Via the AU head, Conde who stated their presence in Monrovia USED TO BE a Convey of subject about what took place all through the aftermath of the elections.

“We discovered it necessary that it WAS our responsibility to identify with our brothers and sisters in Liberia, hearken to them, analyze the location and also we consulted with the diplomatic corps, the election Fee, the Supreme Courtroom and the inter-spiritual council.”

President Conte: “Everyone is mindful that there have been some mishaps right through the elections.”

In a uncommon acknowledgement that ECOWAS USED TO BE problem concerning the considerations, Conde declared: “We insisted on the responsibility of the Supreme Courtroom. We also talked to our sister [President Sirleaf] that she Will Have To stay above the fray.”

” We Predict they will resolve it as we’re going back with assurance as a result of all the events, regardless of all their grievances, regardless of all their discontent they have got all agreed to apply the legislation and improve the Constitution of Liberia.”

Operating Out of Time

Amid the Criminal wrangle, the incumbent, Sirleaf appears all in favour of making certain that alternatively the saga ends, it have to be within the window supplied Through the Structure.

“We Will like to say to you Mr. President that we consider ECOWAS stands By the position that this democratic Process should be concluded inside the period of time of the Constitution in order that I might be able to retire and finish this transition efficiently.”

But Whereas many are hoping that the delays in the Courtroom do not push Liberia into an meantime association, Article 64 of the Structure provides a never-ahead of-used Option that might entrap the method.

Article 64 states: “Whenever the office of the President and of the Vice-President shall grow to be vacant as a consequence of elimination, loss of life, resignation, lack of ability or different disability of the President and Vice-President, the Speaker of the home of Representatives will likely be sworn in as Performing President unless the protecting of elections to fill the vacancies so created.

“Must the Speaker be legally incapable or in any other case unable to suppose the place of business of Acting President, then the same shall devolve in order upon the Deputy Speaker and Participants of the cupboard in the order of priority as based By legislation.

“The Elections Fee shall within ninety days habits elections for a new President and a brand new Vice-President.”

Felony experts say, By definition, both the President and vice chairman may also be legally disqualified from performing as a result of their Criminal tenures have expired. That Is What the Structure references when it mentions “or other disability”.

Many political and diplomatic observers are hopeful that the continued trouble does no longer reach that point.

Judging from the mood and ambiance surrounding the ECOWAS mediators this week, at least one presidential candidate aware about these discussions appear to suppose that the physique language development of President Sirleaf Alerts a mood swing hinting that mild is also on the finish of the tunnel.

“Between the morning after we first met the Presidents to the afternoon once we back for the conclusion, EJS temper modified considerably – from despair and unhappy to upbeat, smiles, and happiness in the afternoon.”

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