Daily Observer – Oscar Bloh, chairman of the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC), has opposed the passage of a joint resolution to be used as a legal framework to conduct the pending senatorial by-elections in Bong and Montserrado counties.
However, Mr. Bloh said if the legislature goes ahead and enacts the resolution into law, the ECC will challenge its legality at the Supreme Court.
Bloh made the statement yesterday at a press conference in Monrovia.
He said the ECC is of the conviction that the use of a joint resolution to conduct the by-elections will be in breach of the Liberian Constitution, because Article 2 says the Constitution is the supreme and fundamental law of the country, and its provisions shall have binding force and effect on all authorities and persons throughout the country.
“Any laws, treaties, statues, decrees, customs, and regulations found to be inconsistent with it shall, to the extent of this inconsistency, be void and of no legal effect. Therefore, the Supreme Court, pursuant to its power of judicial review, is empowered to declare any inconsistent laws unconstitutional,” Mr. Bloh said in reference to the constitutional provision.
Similarly, Article 37 of the Constitution instructs and mandates the National Elections Commission (NEC) to fill any vacancy in the legislature not later than 90 days after the Presiding Office shall have notified the NEC of said vacancy, said Bloh.
According to him, the date for the conduct of the By-Election is not set in the statue (New Elections Law) but is grounded in the constitutional provision cited above.
He said article 34(i) of the Constitution states that the legislature shall enact the elections law; however, the provision is not applicable here and therefore cannot be used to undo another constitutional provision.
“To use a Joint Resolution to conduct the By-Election will mean an amendment to Article 37 and therefore a breach of the law because an amendment to the Constitution can only be done through a national referendum Article (91).
“Joint Resolutions are subordinate to the Constitution and if passed into law will contravene Article 2 of the very Constitution that is to be the foundation of the rule of law,” Mr. Bloh said.
He recalled that on October 4, 2014, the President issued a proclamation declaring the suspension of the Special Senatorial Elections, which was sanctioned and authorized by Article 86 (a) and (b) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
He said the State of Emergency declared at the time grew out of the attack from the deadly Ebola virus, which engulfed the country thereby undermining the security of the state, threatening the economy and other social fabrics of the nation. Mr. Bloh said the nature of the virus did not create the environment for the holding of a free, fair and transparent election.
As a result, the National legislature approved a Joint Resolution 002 to suspend the October 14, 2014 Special Senatorial Elections.
He also used the occasion to inform Liberians that the facts and circumstances that prevailed in 2014 do not exist in 2018 that would require a Joint Resolution to conduct this year’s By-Elections outside of the constitutional period.
Mr. Bloh said that he is disappointed that some political parties under the banner of the Inter-Party Consultative Committee (IPCC) will be seeking unconstitutional means to address constitutional matters.
He reminded Liberians that the consolidation of peace and security is depended upon adherence to the rule of law. “To conduct this By-Election using a Joint Resolution is a dangerous precedent for our democracy and that all well-meaning Liberians must not encourage. We wish to admonish members of the National Legislature to respect and protect the Constitution by not approving any Joint Resolution,” he said.