“Amended LP Constitution Submission to NEC Flawed” -Concerned LP Partisans Seek Immediate Withdrawal
With the opposition Liberty Party having revised the 2015 Constitution and submitted same to the National Elections Commission, a group of concerned LP members has termed such submission as constitutionally flawed, and is requesting the party hierarchy to immediately withdraw the amended Constitution from the electoral body.
In an open letter to the LP Political Leader, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, the concerned LP partisans said, from the onset, they will rely on the validity of the 2015 Constitution adopted at the Voinjama Convention in 2015 howbeit not filed at the National Election Commission.
“We note that the failure to file occurred when there was a change in the leadership of the Party at the time of its adoption. This document has not only governed the affairs of the Party since its adoption, but is the document being amended, an admission by you of its validity. Conversely, an argument supporting the supremacy of the 2005 Constitution over that of 2015 would invalidate all actions taken under the 2015 Constitution, including but not limiting the present attempt to amend. Again, our reliance on the 2015 Constitution is supported by the fact that a filing requirement, statutory or regulatory cannot be used to negate the Rights to Association and other rights under the Constitution of Liberia -especially so when there is no timing requirement,” the group said.
The concerned LP partisans noted that in the instant case, the alleged Amended Constitution is the product of a Constitution Review Committee (CRC) appointed at a Retreat held in Buchanan in 2019. “It is our understanding that subsequently, there was a sitting of an Executive Council that endorsed the report of this Committee as an amendment to the Constitution,” the group maintained.
Listing reasons why a convening of Executive Council that led to endorsing the report of the CRC was a blatant violation of the Party’s Constitution, the concerned LP partisans said Article XII of the standing Constitution provides the process for its amendment. It states, amongst other, that “The Constitution and By-Laws may be amended at any time by 2/3 majority of the delegates at a national or special Convention”.
The group furthered that Article V provides, inter alia, that the National Convention is the highest decision-making body of the Party and shall be presided by the Chairperson of the Party. Its composition consists registered members of the Party who are in good standing and are also registered voters in the Republic, duly accredited by the Convention, noting that the Constitution provides for three categories of accredited delegates presented below for easy perusal:
Category 1: The Standard Bearer/Political Leader, members of the Executive Council, members of the advisory council and current legislators of the Party; the five (5) elected county officials from each County to include the County-Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary-General, Women Wing Chair and the Chair of the Youth Wing; and three representatives of Diaspora Chapters.
The Constitution, the group stated, provides that a Quorum of the National Convention shall be a simple majority of the accredited with representation of a simple majority of the Counties consistent with the Constitution, worthy of note that a National or Special Convention is not spontaneous, but is the product of a Convention Planning Committee.
“At the risk of repetition, the alleged Amended Constitution is the product of a Constitution Review Committee appointed at a Retreat held in Buchanan and approved by an alleged sitting of the Executive Committee and not at a National or Special Convention, as evidenced by the records of the Secretariat. It is therefore debatable whether the appointment, in the first place, of such a “Constitution Review Committee” at a Retreat is a usurpation of the functions of the Executive Committee. Surmising that the Retreat was a Sitting of the Executive Committee, does the Executive Committee have the power to amend the Constitution? The Answer is NO. Again, if in error the Committee was appointed, this is a legal error, a fit subject for adjudication. We submit that it is nobler to err and make amends than to continue in error,” the concerned LP partisans lamented.
The group conjectured further that the Purported Amended Constitution is flawed on its face. “It is a general accepted principle that it is the Secretary – General that is the sole custodian of the records of an organization. It is he who certifies or confirms that the document represents the true decisions of a proceeding – obviously approved by the head of the organization. In the instant case, the Honorable Jacob Smith, Secretary-General, and the Hon. Stephen Zargo Chairman of the Party/Presiding Officer of the Convention. Cllr. Hilton report cannot therefore be deemed an Amended Constitution. The product of his committee can only, at most be deemed a report to be submitted to the Executive Committee for onward submission for inclusion in the Agenda of a National Convention or for the Convening of a Special Convention in keeping with Article VIII in accordance with provisions for the hosting of a National or Special Convention,” the group noted.
“The Purported Document is again flawed on its faced as it is presented cosmetically as a New Constitution. The proper procedure is to file “Articles of Amendments” listing the Articles to be amended first in the Original Form followed by the Proposed Amendments,” the group stated.
“We want to reiterate that the Proposed or alleged Amended Constitution does not meet the requirements stipulated in the Constitution of the Liberty Party and has the potential to create a schism within the Party detrimental to our focus of maintaining and recreating additional seats in the ensuing election It is against this background and in an effort to mitigate this potential explosive situation, that we request that the filing of the purported “Amended Constitution” be aborted, or if already filed, be withdrawn and that all discussions on amending be table until after the ensuing election when a Special Convention can be convened in keeping with the Constitution,” the open letter, signed by Group Secretary Emmanuel Seator and approved by Group Leader S. Daniel Merchant, affirmed.