Rumors circulation in some quarters here that opposition Coalition for Democratic Change or CDC may be contemplating on replacing vice presidential candidate Sen. Jewel Howard – Taylor by defected ruling Unity Party (UP) stalwart Gbehzongar Milton Findley may not be working in line with the elections laws here.
These rumors got intensified following Sen. Taylor’s absence at the party’s campaign launch on Saturday, 19 August, an event that saw Mr. Findley glued to CDC presidential candidate Sen. George Weah when the two sat side – by – side on top a campaign vehicle, parading across Monrovia and its environs with thousands of supporters.
When contacted Monday, 28 August whether the CDC could possibly carry out the replacement of Sen. Taylor at this time, the NEC simply provided this paper a copy of the New Elections Law published in September 2016 without speaking to the rumors.
However, searching through the law reveals that under Liberia’s Elections Law Chapter 4 Section 4.7 (A), “A candidate may withdraw from contesting an election by giving a written notice to the Commission no later than seven (7) days after the last day for receiving nominations under section 4.5, and a withdrawal notice after this date is void.”
It says further that “Subsection (1) does not apply to the second round of presidential Elections.”
The National Elections Commission or NEC’s elections calendar had initially set candidate nomination process for the October representatives and presidential elections for June 19 to July 11, 2017. But the Commission on 7 July announced the extension of the process by 10 days, bringing the candidate nomination period to an end finally on 17 July, which is more than a month ago.
Under Section 4.7 (B) titled Death of a Candidate, it states that if a candidate nominated by a political party dies before the last date that withdrawals are permitted, the party may give the commission written notice of a substitute candidate to be entered on the ballot.
In doing so, all information required by the commission must be provided as well, not later than seven (7) days after the death of the fallen candidate. In an election for president, the law says if a candidate nominated by a political party dies between the close of the first round of voting and the announcement of final results, and the fallen candidate is either the one who wins the election in the first round or is a candidate in the second round, the election shall be held again at the earliest date practicable, as determined by the commission.
It says the commission shall allow seven (7) days for the party whose candidate died to nominate another candidate. The case with Sen. Taylor was reported to have been one of seeking medical attention, unlike what are being cited in these laws as justification for withdrawing or replacing a nominated candidate.
What remains to be seen is those spreading the rumors about plans to use Mr. Findley as Sen. Weah’s running mate to say exactly what could be prompting any effort from the CDC to replace its vice presidential candidate, Sen. Taylor. –By Winston W. Parley, editing by Othello B. Garblah