Former Ruling Unity Party Cries Foul -Sees ‘Clear, Scandalous’ Attempt Against Standard-Bearer

Former ruling Unity Party (2006–2018) is smelling what it calls a very clear and scandalous attempt to target and eliminate it and its Standard Bearer, Amb. Joseph N. Boakai, from the 2023 general and presidential elections. In a statement issued in Monrovia against the National Elections Commission and calling on the Government of Liberia and the international community, the Unity Party outlined a chain of actions allegedly by the NEC, asserting that after “were robbed of our senatorial victory in Lofa; the citizens of Lofa were subjugated and denied their suffrage; the UP will no longer sit supinely and allow the rights of the people it represents to be trampled upon by a system marred by duplicity,  intolerance, and a clear intent to embroil the democratic process in chaos.” The Analyst reports.

The former ruling Unity Party is calling on the urgent attention of the Government of Liberia as well as the International Community, specifically ECOWAS, EU, and the US, to intervene in wrangling taking place between the party and the National Elections Commission.

In a position statement released to the media, the party said, after “we were robbed of our senatorial victory in Lofa, and the citizens of Lofa were subjugated and denied their suffrage, the UP will no longer sit supinely and allow the rights of the people it represents to be trampled upon by a system marred by duplicity, intolerance, and a clear intent to embroil the democratic process in chaos”.

The however assured its partisans and sympathizers that “no matter how deep and well planned this grand conspiracy to exclude the UP from the bi-election in Lofa and subsequent elections is, the Unity Party will do everything within the ambit of the Law to ensure that we partake in every elections in this country; even more emphatically, we will field our candidates in the Lofa bi-election and the 2023 Presidential Elections under the banner of the Unity Party”.

The party’s statement was triggered by ongoing litigation in one instance between it and its former ally, Liberty Party headed by Musa Bility and in another instance between the party and the National Elections Commission (NEC).

Giving the context of its case, the party said on December 20, 2021 the National Executive Committee of the Unity Party voted decisively to withdraw from the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) after all efforts to resolve the internal issues failed and it was unequivocally clear that the CPP was evolving in ways that did not represent the values, aspirations, and philosophy of the Party.

The decision to withdraw was a resolute moral protest against the alteration of the Framework Document that embodied the very collaboration and its credibility, the former ruling party asserted. “Our withdrawal was in line with our constitutional right and in the interest of the people we are obligated to serve.”

Up said in the statement that as a party representing the aspirations of the people, “we believe it is our duty to ensure a more unanimous and credible effort that would provide the optimal leadership alternative for credible, rather than self-serving reasons.”

The UP stressed that it prudently followed all due processes and subsequently informed all parties in the collaboration of our withdrawal.

After the submission of a resolution regarding its withdrawal processes, UP stated that the NEC requested the UP to meet three requirements in order to complete its withdrawal from the CPP: Submit an indemnity bond valued at US100,000.00; submit the party’s bank statement so that the elections commission would be able to verify if the party meets the required bank balance of US$10,000 minimum or its equivalent in Liberian Dollars, and to invite the NEC to inspect the party’s headquarters.

Said the Unity Party being a law-abiding institution, it fulfilled all of these requirements and the Elections Commission has since been operating with the UP as an independent registered political party under the laws of Liberia.

According to the Unity Party, “upon the publishing of the guidelines for the Lofa County bi-elections for a vacancy created in the senate as a result of a politically orchestrated witch-hunt against our candidate, Brownie Samukai, who democratically and legitimately won the seat, the party UP submitted the completed form required for nominating our candidate, Hon. Galakpai Kortimai, for the bi-election scheduled for May 10, 2022”.

“On March 24, 2022 Messers Musa Hassan Bility, Martin Saye Kollah and the Alternative National Congress (ANC), after removing the UP and ALP from all forums and chat groups, wrote a letter (not a complaint) to the Elections Commission with basically two concerns: seeking clarity and advice on the status of the UP and the ALP within the CPP and asking the NEC not to allow the UP and the ALP to register candidates in their own names for the Lofa bi-election.

But the party said the first count was disingenuous as the UP had written the 3 other parties duly informing them about its withdrawal from the CPP.

UP explained that on March 25, 2022 it received a notice of assignment to appear for hearing on March 28, 2022 before Hearing Officer Atty. Fomba Swaray.

“Our lawyers argued that the case was manufactured by the NEC out of a simple letter written by Musa Bility and the ANC be thrown out on two major counts: that the Elections Commission is an administrative body and hence cannot declare rights as was being requested by those who wrote the letter. That the elections commission was not an advisory board and hence is not in the position to render advice to any political party.”

UP said the Hearing Officer ruled in the affirmative to “our arguments but yet insisted that he would still hear the case. This is massively baffling as the two paramount reasons for which the letter was written were ruled against.”

It stated further: “What other case the hearing officer wants to hear again remains a misery. To this end, our very brilliant lawyers filed a petition for judicial review on the Hearing Officer with the NEC’s Board of Commissioners. As expected, the Board of Commissioners upheld the ruling of the hearing officer and asked him to resume jurisdiction over the case.”

On the apparent weight of the foregoing, the Unity party said it sees “is a very clear and scandalous attempt to target and eliminate the Unity Party and its Standard Bearer, Amb. Joseph N. Boakai, from the 2023 general and presidential elections.”

The former ruling Party stated: “Even after we have stated very clearly in a sworn statement that the Framework Document submitted to the National Elections Commission was not the same Framework Document signed by the Unity Party on May 19, 2020, yet the Elections Commission would incautiously want to hold us by a clause in a controversial document that we are not a signatory to, knowing fully well that fraud vitiates everything.

“So the litmus test to this grand scheme of exclusion of the UP in the 2023 Presidential Elections is the Lofa County senatorial bi-election. Intriguingly, violating its own guidelines and timeline, the National Elections Commission has deliberately refused to publish the provisional list of registered candidates which should have been done on April 4, 2022.”

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