Liberia: NEC Board of Commissioners Upholds Hearing Officer’s Ruling on the Unity Parrty

MONROVIA – With the exception of NEC Commissioner Boakai Dukly, six members of the Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission, signed and endorsed the ruling of the NEC hearing officer that it is only the Supreme Court that can interpret the constitutional question raised in the case CPP vs. UP, ALP.

On Monday, April 25, 2022 hours after the concluded hearing into appeal from the defendant UP, ALP requested a review of the hearing officer’s ruling, the Board of Commissioners requested two hours to review the litany of issues proffered by the UP, ALP and came out with its ruling endorsing the hearing officer ruling.

“There is no merit in any of the remaining issues raised in the appellant exception. Accordingly, we affirm the hearing officer’s disposition of those issues without further discussion. Wherefore, and in view of the foregoing, the appellant’s appeal is hereby denied and dismissed.”

Last week, Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) said it is prohibited from taking any further action on an endorsement from or other documents brought forth by defendants regarding the fielding of a candidate by Unity Party in the May 10 by-election in Lofa County until otherwise determined.

The NEC’s decision comes days after its Board of Commissioners denied lawyers representing the legal interest of the Unity Party (UP) and the All Liberian Party (ALP)  request for judicial review on grounds that the matter before them was way above their jurisdiction.

“Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, and so as to allow the opportunity for the Honorable Supreme court to possibly consider the constitutional questions raised in this matter,” the NEC said at its final ruling.

However, NEC’s Hearing Officer somersaulted on the Board’s previous decision, allowing the Supreme Court to consider the constitutional question raised in the case.

The legal team representing the UP and the ALP), filed an appeal for a review of the Hearing Officer’s decision by the Board of Commissioners, and the appeal was granted. 

 The Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) under the signatures of the truncated Liberty Party and the embattled Alternative National Congress (ANC) complained that the UP and ALP who had 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.

“There have been no official communications from the ALP or UP to either the CPP National Advisory Council or National Executive Committee regarding 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 UP argues that its withdrawal from the CPP was made public and that its executives were removed from the CPP WhatsApp chartroom upon the pronouncement.

The feud and animosity among executives and members of the shattered CPP continue to intensify on a regular basis as evidenced by the latest request made by the ANC’s political leader Mr. Alexander Benedict Cummings and the Musa Hassan Bility’s faction of the Liberty Party (LP) to the National Elections Commission (NEC) for the rejection of the former ruling UP and the 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 allegations 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 the party’s 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 faction of the Liberty Party also announced its withdrawal from the CPP, accusing the ANC of allegedly altering the framework document in a resolution issued.

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