Demarcate Constituencies Before Conducting Voters Registration: CPP Petitions Supreme Court To Instruct NEC
Monrovia – Ahead of October presidential and legislative elections this year, the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) has filed a petition at the Supreme Court of Liberia over concern about the constitutionality of the action of the National Elections Commission (NEC) to conduct Voter Registration, after the conduct of a Census, but without constitutionally demarcating constituencies into which a voter is to be registered.
By Selma Lomax [email protected]
In a press release issued March 17, CPP’s Secretary General, Martin Kollah, quoted Article 80 (c) as saying, “every Liberian citizen shall have the right to be registered in a constituency, and to vote in public elections only in the constituency where registered…”
He added: “According to (D) of the same Article, “shall have an approximately equal population of 20,000, or such number of citizens as the Legislature shall prescribe in keeping with population growth and movements as revealed by a national Census; provided that the total number of electoral constituencies in the Republic shall not exceed one hundred.” At (e), the Constitution provides that “immediately following a national census and before the next elections, the Elections Commission shall reapportion the constituencies in accordance with the new population figures so that every constituency shall have as close to the same population as possible; provided, however, that a constituency must be solely within a county.”
The CPP said despite various public objections over the unconstitutional delays to conduct the Census, and concerns around the integrity of the results, according to the Liberian Government, the Census has been conducted. Although final results have not been announced, preliminary results, which were publicly announced, according to Kollah, show changes in the growth and movements of the population.
In some cases, the CPP said, the changes in population defy historical trends and represent massive and significant shifts in the growth and movements of the population.
“Therefore, the constitutional duty of the NEC is to proceed as the Constitution directs, and from which it has no authority to deviate. The CPP believes that to do otherwise is to violate the Constitution and thereby risks the constitutional integrity of the upcoming elections.”
“We have, therefore, asked the Honorable Supreme Court to demand that the NEC obeys the Constitution, and be made to do so, in order to secure our elections and its processes under the authority of the same Liberian Constitution which created and authorized the powers of the NEC,” it stressed.
The CPP says it is not seeking the intervention of the court to delay the elections, but however, it must not permit violations to provisions of the Constitution relating to the elections, without acting to correct such violations.
“If we permit one violation, we risk permitting others, including the timely conduct of the elections,” the CPP said, adding, “We know that Liberians cannot wait to end their sufferings by decisively voting out and bringing to a democratic end the multiple failures in leadership of the George Weah-led administration.”
At the same time, CPP then stressed that “to do nothing and allow the NEC to proceed unconstitutionally is harmful to our country and the Liberian people. All Liberians have the scars to show that when we allow ourselves to act outside the law, we invite consequences that undermine the peace, security and stability of the nation.”
The CPP, therefore, added that is of the belief that it is absolutely important that Liberians are adequately represented in their government as the Constitution grants unto them the right to be.
“This is only possible if constituencies are constitutionally demarcated and voters are then registered into those constituencies in which they can vote for their leaders and representatives. We have a duty to ensure that we do the right things the right way, and the right way is in keeping with our laws,” the CPP press release added.
Meanwhile, the Director of Communications of the NEC, Henry Flomo, says he could not confirm nor deny if there is any petition against the NEC before the Supreme Court.
At the same time, Liberians have questioned the implementation of a biometric voting system ahead of the elections, saying it requires significant investment in equipment, software, and infrastructure, including the installation of biometric devices at all polling stations, digitization of the voter registry, and the training of election officials to operate the new technology.
According to Boima A. Gailor, a Liberian based in the United States of America, given the limited time available, it may not be feasible to complete these tasks in time for the election.
“Also, the current political climate in Liberia may not be conducive to the implementation of a new voting system. There may be concerns that the new system could be manipulated or hacked, leading to allegations of electoral fraud and further political instability in the country,” he said.
“I want to submit that while the implementation of a biometric voting system in Liberia may appear to be appealing, the reality is that it may not be feasible within the limited timeframe of seven months. The logistical, technical, educational, and political challenges that need to be addressed are substantial and may take longer than seven months to complete. As such, it may be more prudent to focus on improving the existing voting system to ensure its integrity and fairness.”