- Say such acts violate the Constitution
By. Leila B. Gbati.
Cllr. Yvette Chesson Wureh, the founding coordinator of the Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC), a member of the Lapper Revolution in Liberia and co-chair of the Female Mediation for Peace and Conflict Resolution for all ECOWAS Countries, and Cllr. Frances Johnson Allison, the former Justice Minister of Liberia and former Chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC), have both called on the NEC to revoke political parties that have formed militants.
Cllr. Wureh and Cllr. Allison made the call on ECOWAS Radio in Monrovia over the weekend during the program “ABIC Hour.”
Angie Brooks International Center for Women’s Empowerment created the ABIC Hour, a one-hour program that combines tales to build the Peace Agenda in the run-up to the 2023 elections. It aims to promote participatory communication through information literacy that fosters climate change; promote gender-responsive dialogues on issues of violence; provide an exclusion platform for women and youth to share their experiences and interact with relevant peace actors; and encourage ordinary citizens to express their opinions on issues, particularly women’s political participation.
The Liberian Constitution, according to Cllr. Wureh, explains why individuals are training and forming militant groups.
Cllr. Wureh stated that the constitution makes it very clear that if someone forms a political party and wants to show physical force by assembling a group of militants, Bridger, and attempting to use physical force or cohesion in promoting any kind of political objectives or interests, that person is in violation of the constitution.
According to her, a political party cannot do so since it is unconstitutional and against Liberia’s Constitution, and it must be done in the country’s interest of security.
She stressed that the NEC has the right to deregister or revoke any political party or anyone who has previously registered, stating that “this must be done in the good of our country and it is a provision within the constitution, it is not just to sit and do nothing.”
“People who wrote the constitution recognized this might lead to violence and instability, and we’ve seen it happen because one group is considered to have militants, and another party wants to have militants as well. So, what if everyone goes ahead and recruits militants, can you tell me where our security is on the ground. The state has security to deal with people’s security, not political parties,” she explained.
“We cannot have political parties arming themselves with militants,” Cllr. Wureh continued, “because what is happening now is that the people are feeling insecure and threatened because they feel betrayed by this show of political force, and the Constitution is clear on this; it is illegal and must be stopped.”
She also urged the Ministry of Justice, the Liberia National Police, and the National Election Commission (NEC) to intervene and put an end to the situation.
In response to the current crisis with Lofa County and the latest Supreme Court judgment, Cllr. Wureh indicated that they agree with the Supreme Court ruling because it supersedes all other laws, regulations, and policies.
She stated that what is happening on the ground has no bearing on the Supreme Court’s decision, emphasizing that the Supreme Court’s decision is final.
“The Supreme Court has ruled that there is a vacancy in the county and that the Unity Party may field a candidate,” she said.
Cllr. Allison, on her part, stated that if the information about political parties allegedly forming militants is genuine, it is a blatant violation of the law, particularly Liberia’s organic law.
Cllr. Allison stated that any party or organization that will organize and equip any group or persons with the express aim of dispelling violence in order to attain a political objective or interest is in wrong, according to the Liberian Constitution.
She stated that the NEC should use its authority to deregister that particular party, and that if the party is already registered and exhibits such behavior by bringing people together for the purpose of undermining Liberia’s democratic process, that person or party should not be granted registration or should have their registration revoked.
“The rule of law is the foundation of this Republic. Nobody should come in and claim they want to do strong-man politics in order to keep their authority. That’s not how you earn power. That is why we have democracy; we elect our leaders through elections. If someone wants power and believes the only way to get it is through force, by recruiting militants and equipping and training them to conduct crimes during electoral processes, that is completely unacceptable and goes against the Constitution, as well as election laws and regulations. I believe the NEC should weigh in on this because it is their mandate, and everything we say here reflects the NEC’s viewpoint. No political party or organization can rise to that level. That suggests you intend to sabotage the democratic process and jeopardize the Republic’s existence, which you can’t do,” she said.
Cllr. Allison commented on the situation in Lofa County, saying that everyone has the right to representation, and that if a county representative or senator dies, a by-election can be held. As a result, Lofa County cannot stay unrepresented since its elected senator was rejected.
“As a result, I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to enable the Unity Party to field another candidate in place of Brownie Samukai. I don’t see any issue for voter fatigue now that the Supreme Court has ruled and given UP the green light to choose their candidate, Cllr. Allison asserts. Before, they expected not to turn out if they had deprived their only candidate from participating, but I think the Supreme Court has put water on the fire, so right now people will be interested in turning out to vote,” she assumes.