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Charles Walker Brumskine’s not the Problem; Get Rid of the National Elections Commission

By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh  


Charles Walker Brumskine is the most hated man in Liberia today.

Even though Brumskine did not “kill their pa or kill their ma” like some Liberians are known to say, he’s a dead man walking on the face of the Liberian nation for singlehandedly halting their run-off national presidential elections.

Don’t take my words for it, and don’t believe me, either.

Just start a conversation with a Liberian about the ongoing electoral impasse currently happening in Liberia today, and listen to what some of these Liberians will say, or are saying about the political problem that has engulfed the nation since the end of the October 10 legislative and presidential elections.

What you will hear are insults and ridicules and some of the most despicable and childish talk – in the name of political analysis thrown at a man who is just trying to do the right thing at the right time – not the “wrong time” (as some Liberians are suggesting), as he attempts to correct through the legal process the broken, corrupt and dysfunctional electoral system that continued to threaten the nation’s fledgling democracy, and the safety and security of the Liberian people.

These Liberians are not having problem with the corrupt and dysfunctional National Elections Commission, or are they interested in building credible and lasting political institutions.

They are only interested in “electing” a president who is either a tribesman, a clansman, a family member, a friend, or they are only seeking future employment in the next Liberian government.

I will give Brumskine a break this time because he’s doing or attempting to do what I have been passionate about for decades, and have written about throughout the years – about repairing Liberia’s broken political institutions.

The only complaint I have with Charles Brumskine is that he did not set out from the beginning to fix the problem; knowing that the broken and corrupt elections problem, like other national problems, have been around for a century.

Like his fellow presidential candidates, Brumskine exploited the system and waited until he lost an election (as he has done in three elections cycles) before recognizing the problem and trying to fix it.

To some Liberians, however, Brumskine’s doing this because he lost an election; not because he so much care about fixing the nation’s broken electoral system.

I think Brumskine and others should have tried to fix the problem through practical actions and policy speeches and rallying the population, and shouldn’t wait until they have been defeated before showing their passion for the issue.

At least, Brumskine is trying, which is important.

However, knowing that the Supreme Court of Liberia often sides with him perhaps because of his deep understanding of the law, and because of the passion and seriousness he puts into his legal briefs, emboldened Brumskine to continue his crusade to make Liberian elections better for future generation.

The Supreme Court of Liberia, as usual, bowing to public pressure and apprehensive to not repeat the dubious blunders it made from the Code of Conduct ruling (reaching a decision in favor of a case in one instance, and then later going against the same case), took away every respect Liberians ever had for that body.

However, the Supreme Court of Liberia finally garnered the courage and finally decided to hear Mr Brumskine’s case against the National Elections Commissions.

But the Supreme Court of Liberia erred and did the unthinkable when it also decided to send the same case back to the National Elections Commission for adjudication, even though the National Elections Commission is a party to the lawsuit that Charles Brumskine filed before the court.

I will think a case of this kind, or a case of any kind that made its way to the Supreme Court of Liberia that cannot be heard for many reasons known to the justices, should be turned over to a lower court for hearing.

Because cases for any reasons that are not heard in the highest court in the land are decided in the lower courts; not in the office of the National Elections Commission and its Chairman, especially when the defendant is a party to a case that has such national implications.

However, it has been so long since the results of the October 10 presidential elections came crossing before our meandering eyes, and long enough since Mr. Brumskine challenged those results as unfair before the nation’s Supreme Court.

As much as I am for building credible and lasting political institutions in the country, I am with Charles Walker Brumskine regarding this issue and other issues that discusses and attempts to find a solution to repair Liberia’s broken and archaic political institutions.

It is about time that someone – Brumskine or any other Liberian takes on the arduous task of reforming or fighting to fix Liberia’s archaic, broken and corrupt electoral system.

A first step to start reforming those broken institutions is to first get rid of the National Elections Commission.

Get rid of the National Elections Commission. Period!

The system is archaic and corrupt.

The current system is broken. It is controlled by the President of Liberia and the president’s political cronies.

If you want to keep it, at least get it out of the hands of the President of Liberia.

Make it an independent national institution not controlled by the President of Liberia and the president’s political cronies.

Liberia lacks strong, credible and independent political institutions. That I have written about many, many times.

The system is so broken and corrupt that the nation’s (imperial) presidents are empowered by the Constitution to appoint commissioners of the National Elections Commission.

How fair, neutral and democratic is that arrangement?

How good it is for democracy when there is a crisis after every election season that threatens the nation’s security, and the safety and security of its citizens, like the ones in 1985, 2005, 2011 and now 2017?

President Samuel Kanyon Doe and his Elections Commission chairman Emmett Harmon, reportedly burned the ballots in 1985, after Mr. Doe feared he was going to lose the presidential elections that year.

The nation’s security and the safety and security of the Liberian people was threatened by dictator Samuel Kanyon Doe during the entire time.

From my recollections, some prominent Liberian politicians reportedly went to prison or ended up dead, because they wanted democracy and free and fair elections guaranteed under the Liberian constitution.

Flomoyan-gate in 2005 proved to be another mess when a surreptitious letter to presidential appointee, James Fromoyan, changed the course of that year’s election; and on and on.

What is the remedy to Liberia’s electoral problems?

Stay on the same course?

Are we just too concerned about electing our presidents and our favorite candidates when the process that elects them is corrupt and dysfunctional?

Do we care about building credible and lasting political institutions, or we just want to revisit the same old problem year-after-year only to later complain about fraud and irregularities in our elections?

I am with Charles Walker Brumskine on this one.

I think he’s doing the most patriotic thing for the Republic of Liberia and the Liberian people.

Get rid of the National Elections Commission.

Category: Editorial, News Headlines

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