To Be Or Not To Be…Legal Battle Today In Special Senatorial Election Petition
By Edwin G. Wandah
The long awaited Writ of Prohibition requested for by several petitioners against the National Elections Commission (NEC) in the holding of the Special Senatorial Election is scheduled to be heard today at the Supreme Court of Liberia. Last week, several Liberians including the political leader of the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC) Simeon Freeman, former Internal Affairs Minister, Blamo Nelson and former Information Minister Emmanuel Bowier filed a Writ of Prohibition to the Supreme Court on grounds that the current prevailing health condition in the country is not favorable for the holding of such election.
The Writ of Prohibition filed on Friday, November 28 met with serious mixed reactions with some in agreement with the petitioners while others totally disagreed stating that indeed it was belated for these Liberians to opt for such prohibition when the NEC had already begun the process leading to the holding of the election.
The Justice in Chamber, Associate Justice, Philips A.Z. Banks, upon receiving the Writ, announced the a halt in the entire process and invited all parties to a conference on Tuesday, December 2, but that meeting had to be rescheduled because the Chief Justice said the crux of the matter was being pre-discussed in the media.
Associate Justice Banks’ stay order was apparently to look into the legal aspect of the issue at bar and derive a legal interpretation since the holding of the Special Senatorial Election bordered more on the Constitution than on the matter of health.
The two issues petitioners hold is that since the election was not held on October 14 as stated in the Constitution, the NEC was already in violation and with the Ebola scare, it was not proper for the holding of election, an event whose activity had begun with the holding of large campaign gathering which was against the Public Health Law and instructions provided by the health practitioners regarding the preventive measures of Ebola spread.
The petitioners’ argument is that the NEC did not put the proper mechanism in place to prevent over-crowdedness and more to that the NEC had not made public the listing of voters’ registry or precinct centers.
Another issue that is being raised and discussed is that immediately following the January 14 deadline for the induction of the new senators, the 15 seats already declared vacant would stall the functions of government and that there will be a need for an interim government, a move that the petitioners are in agreement with.
However, those against the petitioners’ petition are of the conviction that the high court will not allow the nation to run into constitutional crisis as the Ebola crisis has already created economic hardship and to have a political crisis, that would lead to instability and the gains already made will be trashed.