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NEC Holds Consultations on 2014 Special Senatorial Election

Authorities of the National Elections Commission (NEC) today held consultations with the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia and the National Tradition Council of Liberia on the conduct of the 2014Special Senatorial Election in Liberia.

The consultations are aimed at finding a suitable date for the holding of the Special Senatorial Election in the wake of a Joint Resolution recently adopted by the National Legislature and to seek flexibility for the Special election to be conducted in counties where the prevalence of Ebola is minimum. The Joint Resolution mandates the Commission to conduct the Special Senatorial Election no later than December 20 this year.

During Thursday’s meeting, the Chairman and members of the National Traditional Council of Liberia, the inter-religious Council and the Liberia Council of Churches supported the NEC’s suggestion to recommend to the authorities flexibility in conducting the Special Senatorial Election in the event there is an upsurge in the Ebola situation during the period up to December 20, 2014.

Meanwhile the Commission will continue consultations with political parties, independent candidates, student and youth groupings, the civil society and the Press Union of Liberia. The NEC also plans to host regional meetings to inform the electorate and other stakeholders across the country on progress being made towards the conduct of the Special Senatorial Election.

It can be recalled that on Tuesday, October 14, 2014, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Liberia made a PowerPoint presentation at a gathering of authorities and personnel of the Commission on the state of the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak across Liberia. The presentation which was made at the request of the NECwas aimed at providing information that is being used in the planning process of the election.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, acting pursuant to the powers vested in her by both the Constitution of Liberia and the Declaration of the State of Emergency, on  October 4, 2014 issued a Proclamation suspending the holding of the October 14, 2014 Senatorial Election. The proclamation also suspended all voting rights associated and connected with the Senatorial Election.

The President directed the National Elections Commission, the agency of the Government authorized to hold general and special elections, to immediately commence consultations and discussions with all recognized and accredited political parties, independent candidates, and civil society organizations and other stakeholders, as well as national and international health authorities on a new date for holding the Special Senatorial Election.

Citing reasons that necessitated the suspension of the October 14 Senatorial Elections, the Proclamation states, “As a consequence of the measures taken by the Government under the State of Emergency to contain the spread and eradicate the virus, the continued prevalence of the Virus, and other self-surviving measures taken by the people in restricting their travel and contacts, necessary for a free, open and transparent political atmosphere, the National Elections Commission, the Institution clothed with the authority to conduct elections in Liberia, has informed the Government that it has been unable to undertake several of the processes that are prerequisites to conducting the pending 2014 Senatorial Elections, including the deployment of staff in the field to conduct civil/voter education, the recruitment and deployment of the required polling staff at polling centers, the importation of basic, essential and sensitive electoral materials due to the suspension of flights to Liberia, the requisite campaigning by senatorial candidates and the monitoring of the process and activities by the NEC to ensure that there are no violations of the Elections Law and that violations are adequately addressed.”

It can be recalled that the President on August 6, 2014 declared a State of Emergency throughout the Nation, which action was subsequently approved by the National Legislature as stipulated under Article 86 of the Constitution with the aim to combat the deadly virus affecting Liberia and its people and eradicate the virus from the Nation.

“Under the Constitution and the mentioned Declaration of the State of Emergency, the President is vested with the power and clothed with the authority to suspend, during the period of the State of Emergency, any and all rights ordinarily exercised, enjoyed and guaranteed to citizens and residents of the Republic in normal periods, limited only by specific exceptions stipulated by the Constitution”, the Proclamation adds.

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