President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, acting pursuant to powers vested in her by both the Constitution of Liberia and the Declaration of the State of Emergency, has issued, under authority of the Constitution, a Proclamation suspending the holding of the October 14, 2014 Senatorial Elections. A Foreign Ministry release says the President has also suspended all voting rights associated and connected with the Senatorial Elections.
According to the release, the President has directed the National Elections Commission, the agency of 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 Elections.
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.