More Parties Join Senatorial, Ten-Year Residency Debate

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

April 15, 2003

Five political parties have joined the All Liberian Coalition Party (ALCOP) in its petition for declaratory judgment filed against the Elections Commission, the Liberian Senate and other institutions over the interpretation of the 10-year residency clause and tenure of members of the Senate.

In a motion to intervene filed with the Civil Law Court, the Free Democratic Party (FDP) Liberia Action Party (LAP), the Liberian People’s Party (LPP), the Liberia Unification Party(LUP), and the Unity Party (UP), prayed on the court to grant the motion to intervene as party petitioner.

The parties through their legal counsels, Ishmael P. Campbell, Francis S. Korkpor, Beyan Howard and others, further prayed on the court to allow movants to defend and preserve their statutory and constitutional rights and grant movants any other and further relief deemed just, legal and equitable in keeping with law.

Predicated upon the motion to intervene filed by the five parties with the court, a joined petition for declaratory judgement was also filed with the court regarding the interpretation of the 10-year clause and the nine years Senatorial tenure.

According to the petitioners petition, they argued that as registered political parties with the constitutional right in keeping with Article 77(c) of the constitution to advocate for the political opinions of the Liberian people. The parties said in keeping with Article 81 of the Liberian constitution to field candidates and canvass for voters in any election, including the election for members of the legislature, President and Vice President during the ensuing 2003 elections.

The parties said they have observed that there have been several interpretations of the 10-year residency clause and the nine years Senatorial tenure.

They contended that the correct interpretation of Article 52 (c) with the ten years residency clause is necessary now from a judicial standpoint before the up-coming elections to lay the matter to rest.

In view of the above, the parties prayed on the presiding judge of the court, William B. Metzger to rule that the plain language of Article 52(c) is that any natural born Liberian citizen who has resided in Liberia ten years prior to election is eligible to contest for the post of President or Vice President. They said there is no need to insert words or phrases such as "Immediately prior to," "consecutive years" or "Continuously" within the plain construction of Article 52 (c) as is being interpreted by the NPP and some of its officials.

The parties further prayed on the court to rule that 1997 was not conducted in keeping with the constitution of 1986 particularly Article 46, stressing that NPP can not enjoy the benefit of said Article 46 concerning the staggering of the senatorial term of nine years.

The parties said in other words, since 1997 elections were conducted by special elections based on proportional representation, Article 46 of the constitution is not applicable to justify categorization of senators for nine years.

© 2003: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.