Editorial: A bill from the Executive seeking lawmakers’ approval to retire all election magistrates across the country is creating room for suspicion and future discontent, if not reconsidered now.
On Tuesday, 9 August 2022, President George Manneh Weah requested lawmakers to return from their break to discuss critical national issues for the period of 30 days which began on 15 August 2022 and will end Tuesday, 13 September 2022.
Among others, the issues included a request for legislators to pass the amendment of the New Elections Law which calls for the immediate dismissal and retirement of all election magistrates across the country.
This is coming just barely 14 months to Presidential and Legislative Elections next year in which President George Weah is seeking a second term. We wonder what is the motive when the government in similar faction recently amended the Act creating the Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and scratched the entire leadership of the Commission even before their tenure is to expire.
The eviction of the entire LACC leadership under Chairperson Cllr. Edwin Kla Martin came after audit conducted by the antigraft institution indicted heads of several government entities for corruption. The audit reports are being swept under the rug by the Executive.
Now there is another push by the Executive, this time around to replace all electoral magistrates, as the nation prepares for elections in 2023. Who are those new magistrates that the Executive wants to bring on board and what is the motive?
Already, the leader of one of the opposition political parties – Vision for Liberia Transformation Party (VOLT) Dr. Jeremiah Whapoe is warning against reverting to the country it’s past dark days. He warns that the bill is a breeding ground for corruption and violence.
He is calling on the Liberian Senate to reject the bill because it allegedly aims to allow President Weah’s Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government to rig the 2023 presidential and legislative elections while reminding us that such acts of rigging in previous historical elections in Liberia led to war and conflict.
We too are scratching our heads to understand the decision behind current attempt to replace qualified and experience magistrates with new people that may be handpicked for political interest to preside over what is supposed to be a democratic process.
We join the VOLT leader and all other Liberians with apprehension on this critical matter to call on both the Executive and Legislature to refrain from replacing magistrates across the country on the heels of major elections. We believe that acting in ways that could lead to mistrust and contention could be a recipe for potential violence during and after the polls.