Amidst the rancorous outcry from the citizenry for the government of Liberia to postpone the holding of the proposed National Referendum that is scheduled to be held concomitantly with the December 8, 2020 midterm senatorial elections, renewed public outcry is being caused by the National Elections Commission’s decision to proceed with the printing of ballots for the Referendum despite the Supreme Court’s Opinion placing a prohibition on said Referendum.
The Supreme Court in its November 18, 2020 ruling stated that the Act of the 2nd respondent (the Executive Branch of Government represented by and through the Ministry of Justice through the Minister of Justice, Cllr. F. Musa Dean, and the Solicitor General of the Republic of Liberia, and all practicing Attorneys of the Ministry of Liberia) in deviating from the clear language of the Legislature and condensing the eight prepositions into three categories, quite contrary to the provision of Article 92 of the Constitution which specifically mandates that each of the eight prepositions be stated separately on the ballot to afford voters the opportunity to exercise their right of choice, the 2nd respondent proceeded by the wrong rule. Hence, the Supreme Court opined that the prohibition remains in order.
“Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, the alternative writ of prohibition issued is sustained and the peremptory writ prayed for is granted. The NEC is here prohibited from printing ballots for the Referendum contrary to Joint Resolution LEG-002/2019 of the Legislature and Article 92 of the Constitution,” the Supreme Court writ of Injunction dated No ember 18, 2020 stated clearly.
However, according to Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) and Unity Party stalwart Mo Ali, the opposition CPP objects to any plan by the NEC to proceed with the conduct of the Referendum under these conditions when there is lack of education of the people regarding the referendum.
“The Supreme Court says that the Gazette, with the three condensed propositions, is inconsistent with the Constitution and cannot be used as the basis for the Referendum. For NEC to print ballots on the basis of the eight proposed amendments, there must first be a new Gazette issued by the government listing the 8 amendments. NEC by itself, cannot print ballots without a new official Gazette consistent with the Constitution. Before the ballots are printed, there must be consensus on the “symbols” which will form the basis for public education,” Mr. Ali stated in a social media post over the weekend.
Moreover, Ali said the National Elections Commission cannot unilaterally decide on the symbols, which must be done in close collaboration with the political parties.
“When the symbols for the eight proposed amendments are decided upon, the public must be educated on the symbols and the amendments they represent. Considering that only two weeks remain until December 8, 2020, the people of Liberia would not be educated enough on the proposed amendments to enable them to exercise their right to vote in an informed manner,” Ali stated.
The CPP, Mr. Ali stated categorically, therefore objects to any plan by the NEC to proceed with the conduct of the Referendum under these conditions of the lack of education of the people.
“We know that the NEC has been instructed to disobey the already compromised and helpless Supreme Court, but we will resist,” Ali averred.