Will NEC ‘Judicial Role’ Be Stripped Ahead Of Midterm Elections?

By Our Staff Writer |

In January 2018 the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in an observation report on the 2017 General and Presidential Elections said the role(s) ascribed to the National Elections Commission (NEC) by the Elections Law of Liberia to adjudicate cases emanating from electoral disputes as “conflict of interest and a breach of legal protocols” and therefore called for the NEC to be stripped of its judicial duties.

But since the NDI’s recommendation, the NEC is yet to be relieved of its judicial role. The NDI recommendation seems to have been triggered by the intense and tiring litigation processes that attended the 2017 presidential and representative elections that were precipitated by allegations of gross irregularities and fraud in the 10 October 2017 polls.

While making the recommendations on steps that could be taken to enhance confidence in future election processes and further consolidate democratic institutions in the country, NDI, at time indicated that it does not make sense for the NEC to serve both as referee and player in a case.

Though not a functional or recognized judicial body, the NEC, under the New Elections Law of Liberia, has the mandate to serve as a quasi-judicial body that investigates and adjudicates cases brought before it.

But a member of NDI’s high-power elections observation mission to Liberia during the 2017 polls- Ms. Hanna Tetteh, former Member of Parliament of Ghana and Minister for Foreign Affairs – specified at the time that there was a need to assimilate a review of the legal framework for elections constitutionally, and ensure through an inclusive and transparent process that gaps or inconsistencies do not exist between the Elections Law, the Constitution and legal precedents.

The NDI recommendation were triggered by the intense and tiring litigation processes that attended the 2017 presidential and representative elections that were precipitated by allegations of gross irregularities and fraud in the 10 October 2017 polls.

What is not known is whether the civil society will engage the relevant authorities, including the Legislature to push for the implementation of the NDI’s recommendations. The civil society and opposition political parties have also called for the voters’ roll cleanup to boost a previous mandate from the Supreme Court of Liberia for the NEC to clean up the roll.

To that regard, the NEC recently announced that voters roll clean-up has started with political parties asked to send one representative each.

An inquiry to NEC Communications Department revealed that there is no record from any civil society or other pressure groups as well as political parties requesting the NEC to relinquish its judicial powers.

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About Cholo Brooks 13146 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.