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Lawyers argue senators’ certification

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The New Dawn Liberia The New Dawn LiberiaLiberia’s Supreme Court on Monday began hearing argument into an injunction issued against the certification of three newly elected senators from Grand Cape Mount, Bomi and Margibi Counties, respectively following the December 20, 2014 senatorial poll here.

Lawyers representing defeated candidates including Dr. Foday Kromah of Cape Mount; Mr. Ansu Sonnie of Margibi and Lahai Lasana of Bomi Counties are challenging results from the three counties, which declared Cllr. Varney Sherman, James Tononlah and Morris Saytumah as winners.

Presiding Chambers Justice Phillip A.Z. Banks said the Supreme Court was purposely looking into whether or not the National Elections Commission could certificate the three individuals while a matter contesting the poll results were still pending.

Lawyers for the petitioners insisted that prohibition against the certification process should lie because the NEC had not concluded with the complaint before it.

But in counter argument, Counsellors Fred Cherue, Bleede, Gloria Musu Scott and Moses Paygai, who stood separately for the NEC and the winning candidates, including Unity Party’s Sherman, Saytumah and Tononlah, argued that the prohibition should not lie because the commission did not act outside of its authority.

Cllr. Scott contended that the petitioners did not exhaust the available remedy before taking matters to the Supreme Court, adding that the returns of the elections “shall” be declared by the Commission “not later than 15 days” after voting.

The former Chief Justice said the declaration of returns as mentioned meant that the NEC would at an official ceremony, certificate the winning candidates in confirmation of the updates it has been giving through the media.

It is after this declaration that she said dissatisfied candidates could file complaints with the NEC within seven days, and if necessary, a subsequent appeal against the NEC’s findings before the Supreme Court where the party still remains unsatisfied.

The NEC also has 30 days to look into the matter when filed by the aggrieved party. However, lawyers in support of the certification of the winning candidates said the law provides for the decertification of any candidate declared winner when final investigation into complaint comes with findings that the certificated candidate is not the actual winner or if there is a fraud.

The Supreme Court is expected to hand down ruling into the matter within 24 hours.

By Winston W. Parley 

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