AFELL Pres. Atty. Philomena T. Williams

LIBERIA: AFELL Calls for Non Violence Elections, Assures Commitment to Promote Constitutional Democracy

AFELL Pres. Atty. Philomena T. Williams

Ahead of the impending October 10, 2023 legislative and presidential elections, the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL) has assured its commitment to promote constitutional democracy

Speaking at the Law Day celebration organized by the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) on Friday May 5, 2023 under the theme: “Episodes of Electoral Violence And Prospect for Constitutional Democracy in Liberia” , the President of AFELL, Atty. Philomena Williams said “consistent with the theme, Please be assured of AFELL’s commitment to promote constitutional democracy during this national election period to cast votes for president and members of the legislature.”

As part of its commitment, Atty. Williams disclosed that AFELL has embarked on a campaign to create awareness in communities, schools, mosques and churches, to prevent violence before, during, and after the pending national elections.

“The administration of AFELL wishes to thank our members who have volunteered their services and time to ensure this campaign achieve its intended purpose.  Mindful of our advocacy, and as we celebrate Law Day today, we wish to restate that AFELL was founded on the principle of a non-political and non-governmental organization. Unfortunately, contrary to the assertion made by the Government of Liberia in its April 6, 2023 statement, AFELL is compelled to remind the Government that over the years and to date, and based on record, we continue to provide voluntary legal assistance in favor of the Government of Liberia through  joining the State/Ministry of Justice in prosecuting rape cases, sexual and gender based violence cases, and other cases without a penny from the Government,” Atty.  Williams said in a statement read at the Law Day celebration in Monrovia.

The AFELL boss further said “Let it be known that no unwarranted statement against AFELL will deter our commitment of providing sacrificial services to the Government. Also, may the government not overlook the fact that AFELL has appreciated His Excellency, President George Manneh Weah through numerous statements for his inclusion of females in the Government. As we hail the appreciable actions of the President, we will not waver to speak out on issues of interest to the women and children in Liberia.”

“To this end, let us quote the letter to the Legislature AFELL was asked to reference.  “The bill includes several important sections, including the requirement that a political party’s list of candidates to the National Elections Commission (NEC) shall include no less than thirty present (30%) candidates from each gender. While I support, this section and others, there are sections/items in the bill that are either already addressed by existing constitutional provision; existing statute; or that are better addressed through the existing independent recruitment process of the NEC. Additionally, it is important to note that the Republic is about seven months away from the 2023 General Elections. Moreover certain changes in the Elections Law at a time so closed to the ECOWAS Protocol A/SP1/12/01 on Democracy and Good Governance six(6) months restriction would tend to send mix signals to the electorate and present the potential to cause delays in the elections process”.  AFELL notes that the bill was returned with the quoted objections raised: 1) Even though, I support this section, there are constitutional provisions and statues, which have already dealt with the matter and 2) Besides at this time, Liberia, a contracting party, wishes to remain in straight adherence to the ECOWAS Protocol. Ultimately, there is no need to change the Status Quo. Government’s statement fell short to state the status of the bill. If not vetoed, is it in process of being printed into handbill for use during the 2023 general elections? AFELL says, that any action that prevents the enactment of the law whether absolute or qualified is a veto. Finally, Mr. President, consistent with our Theme Episodes of Electoral Violence & Prospect for Constitutional Democracy in Liberia.”

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