News / Africa

Liberia Braces for Possible Legal Challenges to Referendum Results

Multimedia

Audio
James Butty

Liberians are bracing for a possible legal challenge to the results of last month’s constitutional referendum.  Voters rejected a proposal to change the residency requirement for presidential candidates from 10 to five years.

This could mean many of the announced candidates in next month’s presidential election, including President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, may not be qualified to run.

Chief Cyril Allen, chairman emeritus of former President Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Party, lost his case before the Supreme Court on the grounds that he was not domiciled in a district in Margibi County and, therefore, could not represent that district.

Allen said his case could serve as a precedent for rejecting presidential candidates who may not meet the 10-year residency requirement.

“My case is a precedent.  I think this is one of the cases in Liberian history that the Supreme Court has ruled on the domicile clause.  And, anyone taking up the case now with the 10-year resident clause will have grounds based on previous rulings. Yes, it is, in fact, very relevant as it relates to the 10-year residency clause. You have to reside in the country 10 years prior to your election.  It must be interpreted by the Supreme Court as that,” he said.

Allen describes the ruling against him as a conspiracy engineered by those he said did not want an official from former President Charles Taylor’s government to run for office.

“There was a by-election in Margibi District, a district in which I reside and have a business and have been operating from for several years.  And, there was a case filed with the Elections Commission that I was not [a] resident…and the Supreme Court ruled that I was not resident,” Allen said.

On the other hand, in 2006, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Representative Evans Koah that he could run for the House of Representatives in Nimba County’s District #6.

Koah said the court ruled that he was domiciled in District #6.

“It was a long ruling but, basically, the court did say that I was indeed domiciled in the district since, in fact, the evidence introduced in court clearly substantiated the fact that I had a residence in the district, the district was where I had been residing and spending all of my time outside of Monrovia, and I was born there and I grew up there,” Koah said.

He said he does not think his case can be a precedent for anyone who might want to challenge the 10-year residency requirement for presidential candidates.

“No, I don’t think the two are the same because that particular proposition [in the just concluded referendum], I think it’s a constitutional requirement to run for the presidency, that one has to live in the country for 10 years, whether consecutively or intermittently.  That part…the legal analysts are still debating it.  That has no connection with being domiciled in a particular district in order to be eligible to run as representative in that district,” Koah said.

It is not clear when and where the first complaint challenging the qualification of any candidate based on the recent referendum results would be filed.

There are suggestions that the Supreme Court may not have “original jurisdiction” and that anyone wishing to challenge any candidate’s qualification may first have to do so with the National Elections Commission.

Some legal analysts argue that the Supreme Court should consider the residency issue as a urgent constitutional matter and immediately address it, especially in light of the referendum results.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs