James W. Kaye
Executive Member of Liberty Party (USA); Former Chairman Liberty Party (USA; former President Liberian Association of Northern California, and Former Chairman All Liberian Conference of North America
December 11, 2017
On Monday, November 6, when the Liberian Supreme Court handed down the stay order on the November 7 runoff election, many Liberians felt Democracy won for the first time in their country.
Even those who first criticized Counselor Brumskine for appealing to the High Court came around when they saw that the fundamental rights and the rule of law were not under attack. As a Liberian and former Chairman of Liberty Party (USA) who was instrumental in leading the Brumskine movement (FOB) into a political party, I am more than proud that my Party (Liberty Party) chose the high ground to deal with volatile issues as electoral irregularities.
When Counselor Brumskine and Mr. Harrison Karnwea appealed to the Supreme Court, they did so believing that pursuing the path through the judicial system was the way to protect the fundamental rights of our people and demonstrate that even in disagreements following the rule of law should be paramount to preserving our Democracy.
It is safe to say that for many Liberians, this is the first time political leaders did not call their supporters into the streets or partisans did not resolve to taking up arms. Unlike 1985 when disagreement over electoral outcome fueled the cannons of the 1990 war or when protests over electoral discrepancies in 2011 led to a loss of a life, the leaders of Liberty Party chose to take a gamble in a system that has never won much praises from many Liberians at home and abroad.
It is safe to say that for many Liberians, this is the first time political leaders did not call their supporters into the streets or partisans did not resolve to taking up arms
The action of the leaders of Liberty Party reaffirmed that the Party believes in upholding the integrity of Liberia’s judicial system and our democratic ideals. In the same way, the Judiciary demonstrated that it can be independent after all. “The ruling of the Supreme Court of Liberia in the case of the Liberty Party is a landmark decision in the history of our electoral processes because of its implication for the rule of law in our country,” (Dr. Augustine Konneh, Lib. Daily Observer 11/8/17).
Unfortunately, despite the monumental pride the Supreme Court’s action brought about, skeptics like Cllr. Jerome Korkoya the Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC) continues to attack those who seek to undo the alleged wrong of the system that Korkoya presides over which is the hallmark to our electoral debacles. In Henry Karmo’s FrontPage Africa Online article “Allegations of Electoral Fraud Politically Motivated (11/8/17)” Cllr. Korkoya was quoted as saying: “… as politically motivated allegations of electoral fraud made by some political parties, noting that NEC is a professional organization that is neutral.”
Barely a day after the Supreme Court’s mandated Cllr Korkoya’s NEC to investigate the claims before the Commission; he would attempt to dismiss Liberty Party’s allegations which have never been investigated. The Court cautioned against this approach to solving our differences. “It has been defined as: ‘A law which hears before it condemns; which proceeds upon inquiry, and renders judgment only after trial…8 Cyc., 1081.” 5 LLR 423 (1937); and, quoting from 6 R.C.L., Constitutional Law, 442, he added: “[ l ]t is a rule as old as the law that no one shall be personally bound until he has had his day in court, by which is meant, until he has been duly cited to appear, and has been afforded an opportunity to be heard. Judgment without such citation and opportunity wants all the attributes of “a judicial determination; it is judicial usurpation and oppression and can never be upheld where justice is fairly administered,” (Chief Justice Korkpor, 2017).
Despite this excellent advice, Korkoya simply considered Liberty Party’s allegations as “politically motivated.”
Despite this excellent advice, Korkoya simply considered Liberty Party’s allegations as “politically motivated.” In other words, he has blindly gone to the court of public opinion to make the charge that the complaints before NEC are politically motivated and failed to heed the Supreme Court’s edicts: “Given the critical nature of the complaint, subject of these prohibition proceedings and its implication on the governance of the nation, the NEC is directed to give urgent attention to the expeditious hearing and determination thereof. It is so ordered” (Chief Justice Korkpor, 2017).
It will be naïve to think that Liberty Party is politically motivated rather than looking at the Party’s past. In 2005, Counselor Brumskine did not make waves even though there was overwhelming feelings within the Party that the election was “free but not fair.” The Counselor called on all Liberty Partisans to participate in the runoff and support either of the two candidates (Mrs. Sirleaf and Mr. Weah).
In fact after the 2011 election when the Counselor did not do well, he publicly removed himself from the Liberian political scene until he was called upon by his many supporters in recent years to come and serve the Liberian people. Maybe Cllr. Korkoya does not know him but I do. I believe in what he told the Supreme Court few days ago. “This is not about losing or winning,” Brumskine told the court. “It has to do with putting a system in place.”
I saw people who stood in lines for many hours turned away under the guise “their names were missing from the voters’ roll.” Problems like being left out of voter’s role, inability to convey ballot boxes to remote locations, and even the perception of election flaw in this round of contest speaks to NEC‘s weaknesses of doing the same thing over and over yet hoping to be perceived as neutral
One could argue that, since Jerome Korkoya is never up for re-election, it is hard for him to relate to the enormous efforts that all those who participate in these electoral exercises must exert to ensure the integrity of their supporters’ votes. “If he only knew,” someone once said. I was in Liberia during the recent election and saw the sad state of our electoral process under the guardianship of Counselor Korkoya.
I saw people who stood in lines for many hours turned away under the guise “their names were missing from the voters’ roll.” Problems like being left out of voter’s role, inability to convey ballot boxes to remote locations, and even the perception of election flaw in this round of contest speaks to NEC‘s weaknesses of doing the same thing over and over yet hoping to be perceived as neutral. That’s insanity! It is a common saying that doing the same thing will always yield the same result and nothing less.
As a professional person, when your institution has failed to live up to its calling not once, but as “a matter of business as usual,” then it is time you “throw in the towel” and resign. You either be a man of principles by admitting that you cannot steer the “election governing ship” or get on board with a paradigm shift.
The Liberian people will be thankful for your contribution and usher in a new face. History will add credits to your account as it has always done for all Liberian leaders, good or bad.