MONROVIA : The National Elections Commission (NEC) yesterday, Monday, December 13, 2021 clarified that it recognizes the 2021 constitution of the Liberty Party which was adopted at the Special National Convention of the party held in Gbarnga, Bong County at which time an election was held that produced Mr. Musa Hassan Bility and other members of the National Executive Committee of the party. The implication of the decision is that the party’s executive committee and its constitution that were nullified by the Political Leader of the Party, Senator Nyonblee Karngar Lawrence have been restored until proven to be wrongly or illegally put in place as was stated by Senator Lawrence for which she took the decision.
The decision of the National Elections Commission (NEC) was contained in a response signed by Cllr. P Teplah Reeves to Senator Lawrence who had written the electoral body to withdraw the notarized copy of the constitution of the party from the custody of NEC which was submitted through Mr. Bility and the Secretary General, Martin Kollah on February 26, 2021 to replace the 2015 constitution of the party. .
“The Commission notes that since the above referenced statement to the LP, the commission has not received any final, non- appealable decision regarding the validity of the LP’s 2021 constitution; neither has the commission been served with an amendment done by the party. Hence, the commission herein informs you that the Liberty Party’s notarized constitution, remains proper with the commission until successfully challenged or amended as stated in our 23rd August, 2021 communication to you”, NEC letter to Senator Karnga-Lawrence said.
Given background of the claims and counter claims from both Senator Lawrence and Chairman Bility, the communication stated that “several months after the submission of the notarized copy to NEC, Senator Lawrence wrote a letter to NEC dated August 4, 2021 requesting the withdrawal of the document and 5 days later on the 9th of August, 2021, Chairman Bility sent a letter responding to the claims and the two claims were referred to the Political Affairs section of NEC and both Senator Lawrence and Bility were invited to a conference on August 6, 2021”.
The letter said that at the conclusion of the conference, NEC informed all parties that pursuant to section 3.3 of the guidelines and the regulations relating the registration of political parties and independent candidates, the claims and counter claims raised in yours and Mr. Bility’s communications, respectively, must first be heard using the LP’s internal procedure both parties accepted the outcome of the conference without objection.
The electoral body said that after the conference, specifically on 20th August, 2021, the commission received another communication from Senator Lawrence again seeking to withdraw the LP’s 2021 constitution. NEC said in a response dated 23rd August 2021, the commission through its political affairs section stated, among other things, that “in keeping with the practice and procedures, here at the NEC, when a party especially through its Chairperson and or Secretary General submits a notarized document such as the constitution to the commission, the general presumption is that the said document is proper and remains as such until successfully challenged in keeping with due process or amended by the party”.
“On 5th October, 2021, a group of Liberty Partisans including you as political leader, Senator Dillon, Debar Allen, Chairman Bility, Secretary General Martin Kollah, and Augustine Fredericks, visited the commission to essentially inquire whether the LP followed the commission’s procedure in submitting its 2021 constitution. The legal section reaffirmed the presumed validity of the submission as stated in our August 23rd, 2021, communication to you. Subsequently, on November 15, 2021, the commission received a communication relative to the party’s Farmington’s meeting, in which you stated among others that LP has met the internal dispute requirement and on that basis, repeated your request to withdraw the LP’s 2021 constitution. Therefore, chairman Bility sent the commission a letter, informing the commission that as a result of the Farmington MOU, the party was taking the same to a special convention in December 2021 in Ganta”, the party said.
NEC noted that on 8th December, 2021, the commission received another communication from Mr. Bility in which he complained that two partisans of the Liberty Party alleged in the media that the LP, through Senator Nyonblee, had withdrawn the LP’s 2021 constitution and replaced it with the 2015 constitution. NEC stated that Mr. Bility’s communication was sent to the political affairs section which, upon receipt, invited Senator Lawrence and Mr. Bility to a conference scheduled for Friday, December 10, 2021, the purpose of the conference being to ascertain whether the party had completed the LP’s internal procedure regarding the complaints and, if so, what was the outcome. NEC said instead of honoring the invitation, Senator Lawrence rather sent a letter to the Political Affairs with respect to the conference but Bility turned up but because the Senator was absent, the meeting was not held.
“Having reviewed our records, Madam Senator, I would like to take this time to reiterate the commission’s earlier statement to the LP that its 2021 notarized constitution submitted is deemed and remains as such until successfully challenged in keeping with the due process or via amendment by the party.
“The Commission notes that since the above referenced statement to the LP, the commission has not received any final, non- appealable decision regarding the validity of the LP’s 2021 constitution; neither has the commission been served with an amendment done by the party. Hence, the commission herein informs you that the Liberty Party’s notarized constitution, remains proper with the commission until successfully challenged or amended as stated in our 23rd August, 2021 communication to you”, the letter concluded..