UN Resident Coordinator Implores Lawyers, Judiciary to Protect Citizens’ Votes – Latest Liberian News
MONROVIA – The United Nations Resident Coordinator Christine N. Umutoni has called on lawyers and the Judicial system to ensure that citizens’ votes are protected and promoted ahead of the October 10 Legislative and Presidential elections.
Serving as a keynote speaker at the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA) annual Assembly held at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Ministerial Complex in Congo Town under the theme “Beyond Rhetoric and Impunity, Law, Governance and 2023-Election-the Basis for Democratic Necessity in Liberia,” Madam Umutoni cautioned lawyers to take the lead role in protecting the votes of every Liberian, as legal practitioners.
The theme for the LNBA’s annual assembly suggests a call for an election base on the law and tenets of governance rather than impunity and rhetoric, Madam Umutoni said.
The UN diplomat added that LNBA as a body is expected to engage in concerted non-partisan commitment to electoral integrity. Moreover, the LNBA has a crucial role in ensuring that electoral disputes are resolved by the rule of law and in a peaceful manner.
On April 4, 2023, political parties will be signing the Farmington Declaration, committing to a peaceful election and bringing any grievances to the law. This, she said, is critical in the work the LNBA does as the country prepares for elections in October.
“Ensuring a good environment for peaceful, free, and fair also includes people trusting the legal system works and that it is credible enough to support any claims that may arise.
She noted that although Liberia has made sufficient democratic gains, elections, and other political processes remain pivotal to maintaining the country’s peace.
Madam Umutoni, a Rwandan has experienced firsthand the catastrophic effects of misinformation and hate speech. These vices were what led to her country’s genocide that claimed the lives of more than half a million people within hundred days.
In her address, she recounted the horrors and cautioned Liberians against these negative vices.
“One point that must gain mention is the issue of monitoring the media. Information and communication are very critical and useful at any time in society, but we must guard against misinformation and disinformation. It is a grave threat not only to the electoral process but to the peace and stability of any country,” she said.
Liberia’s Chief Justice Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh, speaking at the program, reassured Liberians that the Supreme Court is built, fortified, and judicially poised to hear and dispose of all and any election disputes regardless of their magnitude or underlying currents.
Chief Justice Youh had earlier vowed to reject any election disputes cases that are not backed by evidence but mere allegations, speculations, or hearsay; stressing her call that the court is well-fortified and judicially poised to hear and dispose of all election disputes regardless of the magnitude or underlying currents or those involved.
On October 10, this year, Liberians are expected to go to the polls to elect a new President and Vice President, and some members of the Legislature.
Madam Yuoh furthered that it is an undeniable fact the election calendars are the most tumultuous and tedious times in the history of the Supreme Court.
She noted that the storms of elections cases are quietly brewing at the NEC gathering strength, velocity, and force preparing to dash on the shores of the Supreme Court’s docket like a monstrous wave.
However, she assured Liberians that the Supreme Court is resolved to dispense justice evenly without fear or favor.
The Chief Justice used the occasion to warn party litigants, political parties, and independent candidates to safeguard themselves with the best and most astute lawyers who will exert their very best during the hearing of elections disputes.
Chief Justice Yuoh’s warning aligns with the Supreme Court’s opinion which states that it is incumbent upon a candidate to ensure that he/she has in place a qualified legal team who will be in a position to represent them adequately in the elections disputes.
She noted: “we are unhesitant to state that if your lawyers fail to perfect your appeal, the Supreme Court, via a motion from the opposing party, will dismiss your case; if your case is shrouded with mere allegations, speculations, and doubts, rather than evidence, the Supreme Court will reject your claim,” she stated.
Chief Justice Yuoh, among other things, said the Supreme Court Bench will only be moved by strong and convincing evidence and not political ideologies, crowds, or the recently created political slang of strongholds.