By Reuben Sei Waylaun
To ensure the people of Bong and Montserrado Counties are fully represented at the Liberian Senate, the Deputy Speaker of the National Legislature, Prince Moye has disclosed that the House of Representatives has mandated its committee on election and inauguration to work with the National Elections Commission to ensure the senatorial by-elections in Bong and Montserrado Counties are carried out successfully.
Deputy Speaker Prince Kemue Moye
The National Elections Commission (NEC) has earlier postponed the senatorial by-elections to time indefinite due to the lack of fund to carried out the process in the two counties.
Speaking to reporters over the weekend in Ganta, Nimba County, Deputy House Speaker Prince Moye said the chairman of the House of Representatives’ committee on elections and inauguration, Grand Gedeh County district three Representative Alex Chersia Grant has been asked to work with the NEC so that the democracy of the country can be upheld.
“This is a new democracy and we don’t intent to infringe on our constitution. The laws will be protected, the by-elections will go on and we think that Liberians deserve that,” DS Moye said.
According to him, the NEC will now work with the house to set a new date for the conduct of the by-elections in the two counties.
“Since because of financial crisis they couldn’t meet up with the prescribed date in the constitution, they will now come to us and we will sign a resolution setting a new date for the by-election. I have no doubt that the constitution has been violated,” he said.
Since the 2017 presidential and representative elections, the Liberian Senate has been incomplete following the election of the then senators of Bong and Montserrado Counties now Vice President (Jewel Howard-Taylor and President (George Manneh Weah) respectively.
Article 37 of the Liberian Constitution states, “In the event of a vacancy in the Legislature caused by death, resignation, and expulsion or otherwise, the presiding officer shall within 30 days notify the Elections Commission thereof.
The Elections Commission shall not later than 90 days thereafter cause a by-election to be held; provided that where such vacancy occurs within 90 days prior to the holding of general elections, the filling of the vacancy shall await the holding of such general elections.
But on May 8, 2018 through its chairman Cllr. Jerome Korkoyah said the NEC would not be able to conduct the upcoming by-election in both Montserrado and Bong Counties due to the lack of funding for the process.
Chairman Korkoyah stated that the US$3.9m budget submitted to central government by the NEC for the conduct of the by-elections, it was reduced to US$2.7M by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP). Cllr. Korkoyah indicated that out of the reduced US$2.7M the government of Liberia has noted that it would only be able to provide US$1.8M.
The NEC boss revealed that up to present, the government has only been able to make available the total of US$500,000, an amount the NEC chairman terms as grossly in adequate to conduct the by-elections.
About Bong and Montserrado Counties:
Nationally, there are 2.1 million registered voters. Of this figure, Montserrado has 778,291, while Bong has 208,123. The combined total of registered voters in the two counties (Bong and Montserrado) is 986,414 or 45 percent of the total registered voters in Liberia.
The two counties have a total of 2,292 polling places with 1,790 of these in Montserrado County and Bong County accounting for 502. This represents a total of 43 percent of the total number of 5,390 polling places in Liberia.