The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Constitutional Crisis Looms …As Gov’t Yet To Provide Funds For Senatorial Election

By Alex Yomah
Just eight months to the conduct of the Special Senatorial Elections across the 15 sub-political divisions of Liberia, the government is yet to make any money available.
The National Elections Commission’s (NEC) authorities made the disclosure yesterday when all of the Commissioners at the NEC were summoned to update the Liberian Senate on the Supreme Court’s mandate to the NEC and to disclose the status of the Special Senatorial Election.
Briefing the Liberian Senate, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya said, as of now, if the Senate demands for the new Voter Registration process before the conduct of the senatorial election, it would be very impossible to conduct the elections in time.
He asserted that since last year, the NEC projected $27m for both the Senatorial elections and the National Referendum; following this projection, in a meeting with the government and its partners, the government complained about funding and because of that, the NEC reduced its projection to $17m and committed of paying $7m initially but to date, the government has not paid a dime.
According to the NEC boss, the last meeting held with the Minister of Finance, Samuel Tweah, he (Tweah) was blunt to say that no money was allocated in the harmonized fiscal budget for the pending election.
Korkoya indicated that Tweah stated that if the government is to provide funding, the Executive will have to revert to the Legislature as required by the Public Financial Management (PFM) Law and until then, no money is set aside for the holding of the senatorial election.
As for the 2017 Supreme Court mandate to the NEC, Cllr. Korkoya said the NEC has fully implemented its part of the high court’s mandate.
Buttressing Cllr. Korkoya’s statement, Commissioner Jonathan Weedor said, “If by May 30, the Voter Registration process is not completed, the possibility of the senatorial elections will be a handicap.”
Speaking on the possibility of the election if money comes considering the time-frame, the election authority said, the NEC will conduct the election with the current voter roll.
However, River Gee County Senator Commany Wesseh asserted that there is an imminent constitutional crisis due to the insensitivity of the government inclusive of members of the Liberian Legislature.
He said, the NEC did not just write the Executive about the constitutional crisis, but also wrote both the Liberian Senate and the House of Representatives about this looming constitutional crisis and that the disclosure by the Commissioners should place members of the Liberian Senate in a better position to ponder over the future of the country.
Senator Wesseh said failure on the part of this government to allocate the money urgently before October, the senators would have no legal rights to sign any resolution to extend the election to a new date and that means, “The real step down campaign will begin because there will be a breakdown in the country. If there is no quorum to approve the Executive’s instruments including the passage of the budget that would mean that the government will cease to exist.”
Following the debate, a motion was filed by Lofa County Senator, George Tengbeh to invite the Minister of Finance, Development, Planning to respond to a pressing issue of national concern.

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