In Lofa by-election postponement: NEC disrespected Legislature
By Lincoln G. Peters
Nimba County District #5 Representative and Chairman of the Peoples’ Unification Party (PUP), Samuel G. Kougar says the National Elections Commission (NEC) has made an irreversible constitutional error by unilaterally suspending the Lofa County by-election without the consent and approval of the Legislature.
The Nimba County lawmaker said NEC’s decision is a complete disrespect to the Legislature and total disregard for the Constitution of Liberia.
Rep. Kougar vowed to ensure that the NEC be invited and questioned for providing power to itself that is not accorded to it by the Constitution.
He told a live interview on OK FM’s “Morning Rush” early this week that the NEC does not have the power to postpone elections when a timeline has been given.
“The Constitution provides that whenever there is a vacancy at the House, Senate …, the Speaker or the Pro- Tempore should inform the NEC about the vacancy and within 90 days the NEC should do everything to conduct an election in the said area,” Kougar explained.
Kougar argued that if there is any other thing that will prevent that election from being conducted, the NEC should write to the House and have consultation to have a resolution.
The PUP chairman further indicated that for the NEC by itself to make a decision by postponing the Lofa by-election without seeking approval from the House, or acting on an Executive Order, it undermines the Constitution and shows disrespect to the Supreme Court, the presidency and the Legislature.
He said the NEC’s decision also undermined those that invested in the election because the capital they used to campaign has now become a setback.
The Nimba County lawmaker noted that the only way election can be postponed by the NEC is if there is a budget shortfall, saying even when this happens, the commission still has to inform the Legislature to make a decision.
“With what is happening now in Lofa County in my mind, I think there is politics playing somewhere because we [are] supposed to give the NEC another mandate to postpone the election before they do,” said Kougar.
Further, Kougar said it’s only the court that can tell NEC to stop when it notices wrongdoing, but the NEC does not have the power to make that unilateral decision.
He stated that NEC chairperson Madam Davidetta Brown-Lanssnah will be summoned by the House of Representatives for disrespecting the Legislature.
He called on Liberians to speak on the Lofa County issue because that was how the war started in Liberia when certain groups of people felt that they were marginalized and silenced in the decision-making process of the country.