By Lewis S. Teh
The Liberian Senate’s amendment to the New Elections Law declaring all election magistrates’ seats vacant nearing crucial elections appears to send chills in the spine of an opposition lawmaker.
Lofa County Electoral District #3 Representative Clarence Massaquoi of the Unity Party (UP) expressed fear that the Senate’s decision is not feasible for the law, peace, and maintenance of democracy here.
“We think this is not feasible on the side of the law, on the side of peace, on the side of maintenance of democracy including running a credible election,” Rep. Massaquoi told reporters on Capitol Hill recently.
The opposition Unity Party lawmaker alleged that the Senate’s decision is an attempt by the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) to remove serving election magistrates that are not aligned with CDC’s political agenda.
He lamented that declaring election magistrates’ seats vacant would make the CDC government introduce a new recruitment process that will see the coming in of new individuals that will be aligned to the ruling party.
Massaquoi said Liberia is fifteen months away from a crucial election when the Senate amends the Elections Law.
According to him, the timing in amending the elections law is troubling and unacceptable.
” This law should not be accepted particularly for a country that has gone through a period of political marginalization,” Massaquoi urged.
The Lofa County Representative argued that generally most reforms are normally done after an election process, and not before a major election.
He warned that the amendment of the Elections Law sends a strong signal for every national leader who means well for the country to express their opinion.
He has strongly rejected the Senate’s decision and vowed that he and some like-minded lawmakers at the House of Representatives will resist the instrument.
The Liberian Senate recently made several amendments to the New Elections Law after the House of Representatives sent the instrument there for concurrence. Relieving all election magistrates of their post after 90 days of the passage of the law was part of the Senate’s amendments.
The amendment indicated that the magistrates could reapply if they wished.
But Massaquoi said it was unfortunate for the Senate to come up with such a decision.
“Even though I respect that august body, I’m sure this law will be one of those that might have the strongest public resistance from the floor at the House of Representatives,” said Massaquoi.
Massaquoi stated that he does not think that anything that will affect the peace should come from people that are considered lawmakers.