LNBA expresses 2023 concerns
The Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA) raises serious concerns about early warning signs of conflict in Liberia, particularly referring to recent information emanating from Lofa County that both the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and the Unity Party (UP) are forming “Militia Groups” ahead of the by-election in that the county.
The LNBA notes that such action is disturbing and troubling for the peace of the country, and calls on the Ministry of Justice to be proactive in curbing any potential conflict here.
The Bar cautions Liberians against reckless actions that could undermine rule of law and eventually subvert Liberia’s democratic gains.
The LNBA raised these concerns in an engagement meeting held with the Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission (NEC) to acquaint itself with the “General State of Affairs” at the NEC and strengthen collaboration to address attending rule of law issues leading to the 2023 Presidential and General Elections.
At the June 7, 2022 meeting held at the Headquarters of the National Elections Commission in Sinkor, Monrovia, both institutions discussed and agreed to collaborate on a number of critical issues such as: Legal/Electoral Reforms; Capacity Building/Training on Rule of Law issues and Electoral Dispute Resolution Mechanism, among others.
In a press release signed by Cllr. Bornor V. Varmah, National Secretary General, the Bar described the engagement meeting with NEC as critical and a platform to discuss credible 2023 elections that will strengthen peace and democracy.
The release says based on mistrust surrounding past elections in Liberia and possibility of intimidation in the Liberian political environment, the LNBA has decided to undertake programing aimed at enhancing transparency, deterring fraud and increasing chances that the 2023 elections would be conducted in confirmative with the Liberian laws and International Standards.
The release reveals that the NEC Board of Commissioners informed the LNBA’s Leadership about the convening of an ‘Electoral Stakeholders Conference’ which will provide the forum for Liberian Political and Civic actors to evaluate the election process and make recommendations for the future of Liberia’s nascent democracy.
At the same time, the LNBA has pledged its fullest corporation with the National Elections Commission and relevant stakeholders to look at possibility of “Chieftaincy Elections” during the 2023 General and Presidential Elections.
“The LNBA observes that the failure of successive government to conduct “Chieftaincy Elections” since 1985 is a brutal violation of Article 56 (b) of the 1986 Constitution, which should no longer be condoned by the Liberian people”, the release reads.
The Bar believes that “Access to Justice” under the Informal/Customary Justice System, will continue to be undermined once Chiefs, who constitute an integral component, are not properly and legally situated to discharge their functions, stressing that “Liberia’s democracy remains incomplete without the election of Chiefs, as provided for under the Constitution.”
Meanwhile, the LNBA has had an audience with the President of the University of Liberia (UL), Dr. Julius Sarwolo Nelson, Jr. to strengthen the long-standing relationship between the Bar and the University.
The release says the meeting took place on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 at 10:00 in the morning on the main campus of the University. At the meeting, both the LNBA and the UL Administration expressed their commitment to collaborate to enhance rule of law which is the bedrock for peace and stability.
The LNBA Leadership thanked the UL Administration for its continuous effort improving the Manpower Development of the country. For his part, the UL President disclosed strides his Administration has made to upgrade the University of Liberia, informing the LNBA that the UL has finalized engagements to shortly introduce “Master of Law” Program at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law to ease burden on Liberian Lawyers seeking graduate degrees abroad.
Dr. Nelson further said that the University has concluded plans to relocate all undergraduate programs to its Fendall Campus shortly. He said this is intended to provide adequate accommodation for professional Degree-granting programs on the main campus of the University. Press Release