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NEC: Understanding the Legal Implication(s) from the Court

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The National Election Commission in Liberia has announced in Monrovia that despite the decision by Dr. Henrique Flomo Tokpa – the man in whose favor the Supreme Court of Liberia ruled for a re-run of the election in District #7 in Bong County, not to participate in the re-run, it will go ahead to conduct the process.

According to the NEC, its decision is in compliance with the recent ruling of the Supreme Court, and until otherwise, especially from the court, it will go ahead. Recently, the highest court of the land ordered the commission to re-run the December 20, 2014 Special Senatorial election in District #7 of Bong County after ruling against fraud and other irregularities perpetrated by staff and workers of the NEC in favor of incumbent Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor.

The Supreme Court’s intervention followed a complaint filed by lawyers of former Candidate Henrique Flomo Tokpa ( also President of Cuttington University in Suakoko, Bong County) after NEC had refused to acknowledge wrong-doing on grounds that it couldn’t judge itself guilty of such wrong-doing.

Candidate Tokpa, who (according to official records) won all of the districts in Bong County, except District Seven (Sanoyea Market, Yarbayeh Public School and Bletenda Palava Hut – all in Electoral District #7 in Lower Bong County), publicly announced in Gbarnga last Wednesday that his decision not to participate was in adherence to feedbacks from consultations and pieces of advice from his supporters and national stakeholders, as well as in the interest of peace and reconciliation, further making it emphatic that his decision to engage the Supreme Court of Liberia was in no way intended to ascend to political position, but to prove a case by exposing the irregularities characterizing the election – something, he added, has been achieved.

The results of the December 20, 2014 Special Election in Bong County reflected 13, 672 votes (35%) for incumbent Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor against 11, 737 (30%) for Dr. Tokpa.

Considering the entire process – from the day he started his case at NEC to the day of decision not to participate in the re-run, any well-meaning person or institution who believes in democracy, would hail the behaviour and decision of the former Senatorial Candidate and out-going Cuttington University President as the highest political maturity in Liberia’s emerging democracy. To have even ‘contained’ his aggrieved supporters up to the Supreme Court’s decision is indicative of his political education and tolerance, as well as ability to hold together the people of Bong County.

While the decision by the National Elections Commission to go ahead with the re-run in the three areas as ordered by the high court is something with which to reason, it may also be important for the commission to engage the Supreme Court on Tokpa’s decision and communication in its possession not to participate to understand the legal implication(s).

In the truest sense, the NEC did not do justice to itself – by rejecting the idea of acknowledging the fraud(s) and irregularities perpetrated by its workers and staff in Electoral District Seven; and had it handled such situation devoid of the sentiments, it would not have had such ‘eye-brows’ raised at it as it is currently all over the place.

How be it, we can only hope that necessary precautionary measures are being put in place to remedy these problems ahead of future elections, most especially the 2017 Presidential and General Elections.

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