By Alex Yomah
The Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill, has dismissed reports in the media that the Supreme Court has annulled the pending national Referendum.
The Minister of State press conference was triggered by recent reports in which he claimed oppositions are celebrating that Supreme Court’s decision of granting their petition of not allowing the referendum to be held along with the senatorial election on December 8.
But on the contrary, Min. McGill said, “The reason for this program is to inform Liberians that the Referendum is still on course and also to inform you that the Supreme Court was misrepresented.”
He said instead, in compliance with Article 92, the Supreme Court ruled that the NEC must revert to the Resolution from the Legislature by printing separate ballot papers for each of the eight propositions rather than combining the ballot papers as it was intended to be as if it was only three propositions out for amendment.
The President’s Chief of Office Staff reiterated that for clarity, the high court did not cancel the Referendum and therefore he is encouraging Liberians to vote YES to all of the propositions on December 8.
“The Referendum will proceed as planned and we are asking other Liberians that these are not recommendations from President George Manneh Weah rather, they are from the people of Liberia; so, we are asking all Liberians to vote YES for each of the 8 proposition that will be on the ballot box,” Minister McGill said.
McGill called on the opposition to embrace the process because according to him, it is in everyone’s interest while at the same time vowing that the Referendum is not intended for President Weah to have a third term, rather it is to implement the Liberian people’s call for portions of the Constitution to be amended.
However, the contention of the Supreme Court’s ruling that needed clarity was that it concluded by stating that “The alternative writ of prohibition issue is sustained and the peremptory writ prayed for is granted. The NEC is hereby prohibited from printing ballots for the Referendum contrary to Joint Resolution LEG-00212019 of the Legislature and Article 92 of the Constitution.”
The high court recognizing that the petitioners have a stake in the matter therefore held that prohibition will lie where it is established that the respondent has (a) assumed jurisdiction not otherwise ascribed to it, (b) exceeded its designated jurisdiction or (c) in the exercise of its lawful jurisdiction, proceeded by wrong rules other than those which ought to be observed at all times.
The court reminded that parties that Article 92 of the Constitution is devoid of any timeframe for the dissemination of information and awareness on the Referendum and being the prerogative of the respondents and stated that the court is not in the position to determine what constitutes sufficient public awareness and information, “Especially where the petitioners have admitted in their petition that indeed, some public awareness was undertaken by the 1st respondent on the Referendum; consequently, the first respondent s not proceeding by wrong rule; hence, prohibition will not lie.”
The court further stated the prohibition will lie in that the act of the 2nd respondent in deviating from the clear language of the Resolution of the Legislature by combining 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 2 respondent proceeded by the wrong rule.
“Supreme Court Did Not Cancel Referendum”
By Alex Yomah