By Grace Q. Bryant
The Supreme Court of Liberia has called on the National Elections Commission to put halt on the printing of ballots for the Referendum contrary to Joint Resolution of the Legislature and Article 92 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court’s decision came when the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) filed a petition for a Writ of Prohibition against the Government of Liberia and the National Elections Commission (NEC) to the Supreme Court in convention.
” Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, 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- 002\2019 of the Legislature and Article 92 of the Constitution,” the Supreme Court ruled.
Reading the ruling on November 18 by Associate Justice Yussif D. Kaba, stating that the act of the Government of Liberia in deviating from the clear language of the Resolution of the Legislature by combing 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, but GoL proceeded by the wrong rule .
Associate Kaba added that the Article 92 of the Constitution is devoid of any timeframe for the dissemination of information and awareness on the Referendum. “This being the prerogative of the respondents , this 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 NEC on the Referendum and consequently , the first respondent is not proceeding by wrong rule,” Associate Kaba stated.
According to him, the December 8, the date to vote in the Referendum, not being ”sooner than one year” from September 30, 2019, the date of the Joint Resolution of the Legislature and being in compliance with the Constitution, the NEC did not assume jurisdiction not ascribed to it, nor did it exceed its jurisdiction, nor proceed by rules other than those which ought to be observed at all times.
”This Court has held that prohibition will lie where it is established that the respondent has (a) assumed jurisdiction not otherwise ascribed to it, (b)v exceeded its designated jurisdiction or (c) in the exercise of its lawful jurisdiction , proceed by wrong rule other than those which ought to be observed at all times,” Associate Kaba said.
He maintained that the petitioners, having demonstrated that they are duly registered and certificated by the NEC as two separate and distinct political alliances with common concerns relative to the conduct of the December 8, Referendum, they have a stake in the matter and can therefore join in an action to assert any right common to them.
Supreme Court Halts Referendum
By Grace Q. Bryant