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Editorial

Avoiding Threats of Violence to Resolve Issues

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A Message CDC Chairman George Solo Et All

Just almost at the expiration of the tenure of the current membership of the National Elections Commission, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf last week reconstituted the Commission, retaining two of its present members. The decision by President Sirleaf was in keeping with Chapter 2, Section 2.2, of the New Elections Law of 1986, and as amended in 2003 and 2004, respectively.

Among the seven persons named last Wednesday, was Cllr. Jerome Kokoyah-the man selected by the Liberian leader to serve as Chairman of the reconstituted National Elections Commission or NEC. The announcement of his appointment as Chair, no doubt, sparked out another controversy owing to his membership of the ruling Unity Party.

Cllr. Kokoyah contested the 2011 Representative seat for District Number One in Bong County on the ticket of the Unity Party against former Deputy Speaker J. Togba Mulbah, but failed to win the confidence of the people of the district. Whether or not he tendered in his resignation prior to his appointment as a member and Chairman of the NEC is yet to be made public.

But just a day following Kokoyah’s appointment last Wednesday, the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change or CDC threatened to use every available means to oppose his nomination as Chairman-designate. The CDC, through its National Chairman, George Solo, on last Thursday described Cllr. Kokoyah’s Chairmanship of the NEC as an insult to the Liberian people and a mockery to democracy.

“This government is taking the Liberian people for a ride, and they think we are prepared for another political compromise as done in the past. I can clearly say that they are making a big mistake because the CDC will definitely demonstrate to ensure that the pending by-election [Grand Bassa County’s Senatorial By-election] does not hold,” said Chairman Solo, adding that as the result of the “joking and mortgage posture of the government”, his party would boycott the ensuing Grand Bassa Senatorial By- Election on 7 May 2013.

Solo threatened that the CDC will fight at all fronts, including street protests and massive demonstration to draw the attention of the government, further noting that the party had the power to mobilize its partisans and sympathizers to instil in them ‘revolutionary training’ that would create serious setbacks for the government.

Again, while Mr. Solo and his CDC may have a genuine cause to pursue either with the Liberian Legislature or Supreme Court of Liberia, the violent trend being advanced by Chairman George Solo in seeking redress to his qualms with the Chairmanship of Cllr. Jerome Kokoyah may, again, be portraying the CDC very, very negatively, especially so when the Secretary General and Vice Chairman of the party have been boasting about the high level political transformation the party was undergoing.

It is clearly understood in Chapter 2, Section 2.5 of the Elections Laws of 1986 that “no Commissioner, Election Officer or any employee of the Election shall be a member or an affiliate of any political party, or an association or organization; nor shall any Commissioner, Election Officer or employee of the NEC canvass for any elective public office directly or indirectly”. The foregoing provision of the Elections Laws of Liberia clearly suggests “at the NEC, no one should have membership with any political party”.

This further goes to explain that even if Cllr. Jerome Kokoyah was a member of the ruling Unity Party, his presence on the National Elections Commission must now make him and his behavior a different person from a partisan-that’s what Chapter 2, section 2.5 of the Elections Laws of Liberia may be suggesting to us.

However, should there be any confusion in the foregoing provision of the laws, it is also incumbent on Chairman George Solo and the CDC to pursue legal means, other than the path on which they want to thrive as a way of seeking redress to their political grievance.

Until last Thursday, George Solo’s news conference in Congo Town which was characterized by threats of violence, the impact of the CDC’s political transformation as pronounced by its secretary General, Nathaniel McGill and Vice Chairman Mulbah Morlu a few months ago, was always evidenced by the maturity and objectivity which accompanied the party’s various positions on a number of national issues.

It would be politically rewarding for the CDC National Chairman to conduct himself in consonance with the laws of Liberia as was done by his colleagues on the party’s leadership during his absence from the country so as to neutralize the perception already harbored by a certain segment of the Liberian society. The threats of violence as the only means of resolving political or national issues must be avoided, if the CDC must be seen as the next Liberian Government-waiting.

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