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Catakaw rubbishes Rep. Zarzar

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The New Dawn LiberiaThe deputy secretary general of Unity Party has rubbished call by Sinoe County Rep. Matthew Zarzar for the National Elections Commission to disqualify two of the many candidates that were placed on the Commission’s provisional listing on grounds that those individuals were still in the employ of the government.

Catakaw’s Letter | Rep. Matthew Zarzar pictured

The candidates concerned are contesting for the senate on the tickets of the ruling Unity Party. In a communication to Rep. Zarzar, Atty. Miller Catakaw of the UP said the claims by the Sinoe County lawmaker has no legal basis and lacks the moral grounds to be taken before NEC.

“I wish to respond to your letter to me, challenging my representation of Superintendent Milton Teahjay and Superintendent Wellington Smith, nominees of the Unity Party, for senatorial seats for the 2014 elections for Sinoe County and River Cess County, respectively.

I recall that you castigated me in your letter and also had aspects of your letter published in major newspapers of general circulation in Monrovia and on radio in Sinoe County for also criticizing you for your action,” writes Atty. Catakaw, who is in the employ of the Sherman and Sherman Law firm in Monrovia.

Rep. Zarzar, who is also an executive of the ruling UP like the rest of them, had complained to the NEC, but failed to show up for a hearing scheduled by the Commission. “I am the Deputy Secretary General of the Unity Party; I appeared at the National Elections Commission (“NEC”) in my capacity as an Attorney-At-Law, who is an associate of Sherman & Sherman Inc.

Please also note that Sherman & Sherman was founded by Counsellor H. Varney G. Sherman, who is the National Chairman of the Unity Party. It is therefore clear that my presence at the NEC was with the consent and approval of Counselor Sherman, who could personally be present and had me make the representation I made at the NEC,” Atty. Catakaw pointed out.

Explaining further about the action of the lawmaker, Catakaw noted that one of the cardinal obligations of a UP partisan is to support UP’s candidates through campaigning to get elected to public offices and to provide other support within his/her capacities for the UP candidate at any election, as enshrined in the UP Constitution.

He argues that the complaints filed by Representative Zarzar violates provisions of the UP Constitution, adding that if anybody wishes to challenge any UP Candidate it should not be  him (Zarzar), a senior UP member, who is also a member of UP’s National Executive Committee.

The Sinoe County lawmaker relied on the National Code of Conduct Act (2014), Part V, Section 5.2(e) to complain that the UP’s nominees should have resigned their respective positions in government to come forward as candidates for the Liberian Senate.

The young educator stressed that the law took effect on June 20, 2014 – the date on which it was published. But it was not intended to affect the 2014 senatorial election, which is scheduled for the second Tuesday of October, 2014.

The law requires that government officials, including superintendents, shall resign their appointments at least two (2) years before the election, they wish to contest in, suggesting that these candidates should have resigned in 2012, the minimum time required by law. Also, the law could not and was not intended to operate retroactively as the Liberia Constitution forbids ex post facto law.

“Liberian Constitution article 21(a), so your contention that Mr. Teahjay and Mr. Smith should comply with a statute, which is not applicable to the 2014 senatorial election is untenable. Next, the un-timeliness of your complaint is an issue that you did not consider.

The NEC has the power to promulgate regulations for elections. Election Law, Section 2.9(h). Pursuant to this power, the NEC promulgated the Candidate Nomination Procedure for the Special Senatorial Election 92014),” Attorney Catakaw maintained.

He said it has provided in the Candidate Nomination Procedure that no challenge to a candidate shall be entertained three days after the publication of the Provisional List, candidate nomination procedure, section XVI. The Provisional List was published on July 28, 2014; Zaezar’s complaints were filed on August 12 and August 19, 2014.

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