Liberia: National Elections Commission Board Denies Unity Party Request to Dismiss CPP Complaint as Hearing Delays Listing for Lofa County Senatorial By-election

MONROVIA – The Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission (NEC) has denied a request from the Unity Party opting that the NEC recuse itself from the complaint filed by the ‘remaining fragment’ of the Collaborating Political Parties – the Liberty Party and the Alternative National Congress – because the issues raised can only be validated by the court, hence the case should be dismissed.

However, the NEC Board of Commissioners opined after reviewing their petition, there was no merit in the issues presented in the petition to warrant judicial review, and accordingly, the Board of Commissioners affirmed the hearing officer’s disposition of those issues without further discussion.

“Wherefore, and in view of the foregoing, petitioners’ petition is hereby denied; and because time is of the essence, the hearing officer is hereby directed to immediately resume jurisdiction and proceed as expeditiously as possible in keeping with law,” the NEC Board ruled.

The CPP under the signatures of the truncated Liberty Party and the embattled Alternative National Congress complained that the Unity Party and the All Liberian Party who claim to have exited the CPP, however, were not in accordance with the laid out procedure prescribed in CPP Framework Agreement, therefore, they should not be recognized by the NEC as individual political parties.

The contesting parties also argued that a clause in the CPP Framework Agreement forbids parties who exit the Collaboration from fielding candidates in an ensuing election in their name.

“There have been no official communications from the ALP or UP to either the CPP National Advisory Council or National Executive Committee regarding the said withdrawal. We also learned that both parties have requested the commission to bar the use of their name and logo from the CPP logo,” the communication stated.

However, the Unity Party argues that its withdrawal from the CPP was made public and that its executives were removed from the CPP WhatsApp chatroom upon the pronouncement.

NEC sources have informed FrontPageAfrica that the ongoing case has caused a delay in activities leading to the date for the Lofa County senatorial by-election. According to our source, if not for the case the list of candidates would have been published on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.

After the NEC ruling on Tuesday, the standard-bearer of the Unity Party, former Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, assured members of the party that there is no way that the NEC will release a candidate listing for the by-election in Lofa Cunty without the candidate of the Unity Party on the list. He expressed the Unity Party’s confidence in the competence of the NEC.

“We have very competent lawyers who have been representing our interest at the National Elections Commission… they met the full Board of Commissioners and I want to ensure you that our National Elections Commission has the competence and we have the confidence in them that the right is going to be done. So far, there has been no posting of any list of candidates, not even our candidate from the Unity Party. We want to ensure you that there will be no election list posted that will not have the name of our Unity Party candidate, you may be assured of that,” Amb. Boakai said.

The feud and animosity among executives and members of the shattered Collaborating Political Parties continue to intensify on a regular basis as evidenced by the latest request made by the Alternative National Congress (ANC) of Mr. Alexander Benedict Cummings and the Musa Hassan Bility’s fraction of the Liberty Party (LP) to the National Elections Commission (NEC) for the rejection of the former ruling Unity Party (UP) and the All Liberian Party (ALP) from contesting in the 2023 general and presidential elections.

They indicated in the complaint to the NEC: “Section 8.5 (2) of the CPP framework document states that: Constituent Party desiring to withdraw from the CPP shall first exhaust the dispute resolution mechanism stipulated in the framework document. If the Constituent Party which has satisfied the dispute resolution mechanism is not satisfied with the outcome, it shall file a resolution to withdraw from the CPP signed and duly executed by two-thirds (2/3) of the membership of the National Executive Committee, it is being understood, however, that a party withdrawing from the alliance prior to the next presidential, legislative and local elections shall not field candidates in its name”.

“As such, we hereby inform the Commission that we are invoking Section 8.5 (2) CPP framework document and requesting that the commission reject and deny any application from the ALP and UP to field candidates in their names in any election until the expiry of the 2023 elections, including up to six (6) months thereafter, same being the agreed contractual life of the CPP”.

In December last year, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ALP of the businessman turned politician Benoni Urey, announced that it was pulling out of the CPP on allegation of the altering of the framework document which brought the four parties together

Nearly two months later, the UP, through its Standard Bearer, Joseph Nyuma Boakai, on Wednesday, February 16, 2022, announced its withdrawal from the collaboration after what it called failed efforts to resolve the internal impasse within the party.

The impasse led to the filing of a lawsuit against Mr. Cummings, the chairman, and secretary-general of his political party.

Recently, the Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence fraction of the Liberty Party also announced its withdrawal from the CPP, accusing the ANC of allegedly altering the framework document in a resolution issued.

However, the NEC continues to recognize the Bility faction of the Liberty Party as the legitimate leaders of the party.

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