NEC Reaffirms Tenure End for Biney, Others -Calls for Interim leadership; But outgoing Leadership Excepts

The National Elections Commission (NEC) of Liberia, through the majority ruling of its Board of Commissioners has reaffirmed the end of tenure for the James Biney-led National Executive Committee of the former ruling National Patriotic Party, and called for, among other things, a setting up of a seven-man interim leadership to pave the way for a National Convention to elect new corps of leadership. However, members of the outgoing Biney leadership have termed key portions of the NEC decision as unconstitutional, vowing to do all within their power to curtail such circumvention of the NPP Constitution.

The decision of the electoral umpire, taken on Friday, May 6, 2022, emanated from a complaint filed on November 30, 2021 by some aggrieved partisans (appellees} of the Party against the leadership of James Biney, for overstaying its tenure since being elected in February, 2016..

A Hearing Officer had earlier ruled in favor of the complainants and the ruling of the BOC was to uphold what the Hearing had earlier decided on.

The NEC Hearing Office conducted an investigation and rendered a ruling in favor of the complainants, to which Biney and others took an exception and appealed to the Board of Commissioners.

According to a report from the Headquarters of NEC, Biney, who is also a Senator from Maryland County, along with his colleagues, has taken exception to the ruling and taken an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Providing a background of the case, NEC said this was the second time that such a leadership crisis concerning the party has gone before it for consideration. NEC said the first complaint concerned the tenure of the partisans who were elected at the NPP convention in March 2011, and realizing that the four-year tenure expired in 2015, it was mandated that an interim leadership be set up to take the party to convention and elect new leadership. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

NEC noted that it was against that background that some aggrieved partisans sought redress, and that having listened to both parties, the Hearing Officer ruled in their favor, asking the Biney leadership to quit for an interim leadership to take the party to convention. It said Biney and others appealed against the ruling and asked the BOC to adjudicate, after which the BOC came up with the final ruling from the perspective of NEC.

“That with the tenures of Chairman James P. Biney and other partisans elected at the NPP’s February 16 convention either to serve for four or six years having expired, the said partisans (Biney and others) are without authority to steer the affairs of the NPP, and that an interim Convention Coordinating Committee, comprising seven persons, be set up to take the party to its 7th Biennial Convention where the outgoing Biney leadership shall make a report of its stewardship”, part of the ruling said..

The NEC BOC ruling also states that within five days of the date of this ruling, the two sides (complainants and the Biney leadership) shall each designate and submit to the Political Affairs Section of the NEC, the names of three persons to serve on the said interim Convention Coordinating Committee, and that the chairperson of the interim Convention Coordinating Committee to be agreed upon by the two sides shall not include any of the named individuals in the case.

The NEC BOC further maintained that in the event where the complainants and the outgoing Biney leadership cannot agree on a person to serve as chairperson of the interim Convention Coordinating Committee, the Political Affairs Section of the NEC will submit a list of three eminent Liberians from which the two sides will agree on one person to serve as chairperson, and that after the said submission of the list by NEC, the two parties cannot still agree on a chairperson, the NEC will designate a neutral person, association, or group to take the NPP to its 7th Biennial Convention.

“That the Chairperson of the Interim Convention Committee to be agreed on by the Appellants and appellees herein shall not be any of the named individuals in this case.

“In the event that appellants and appellees hereby cannot agree on a person to serve as chairperson of the said interim convention committee, the political affairs section of the NEC will submit a list of three eminent Liberians from which appellants and appellees will agree on one person from the said list to serve as chairperson. If after the said submission by the NEC, appellants and appellees still cannot agree on a chairperson, the NEC shall designate a neutral person, association or group to take the NPP to convention”, the NEC ruling concluded.

Besides Commissioner Barsee Leo Kpangbai who gave a dissenting view and did not sign the ruling, all other commissioners including the Chairperson Mrs. Davidetta Brown-Lassanah, agreed to the ruling and signed.

Meanwhile, the outgoing Biney-led leadership has taken serious exception to the National Elections Commission BOC May 6, 2022 decision.

In a press statement signed by outgoing NPP Secretary General Andrew Peter, the party said, the BOC in its final ruling amended the NEC hearing officer’s ruling by dissolving the NPP Convention Coordinating Committee appointed by the hearing officer that was headed by former speaker Nyondeh Monokormana.

“NEC also in its amendment, cited a precedent case that never happened in the party since its formation by requesting the leadership beaded by Chairman Biney and the aggrieved NPP partisans to submit three names each with one agreeable neutral person by both parties to head the interim Convention Coordinating Committee to take the party to convention.

“The leadership of the National Patriotic Party sees this decision not just unconstitutional but a smart attempt by the Board of Commissioners to suspend its Constitution and to satisfy certain individuals whose desire is to control the party as a private entity. As a result, lawyers representing the party leadership announced an exception to the Board’s ruling to seek Supreme Court’s intervention, a body responsible to handle all constitutional matters.

“The leadership calls on all its partisans to remain calm as it will do everything legally possible to protect the Constitution and bye-laws of the National Patriotic Party,” the release signed by outgoing NPP Secretary General Andrew Peters indicated.

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