MONROVIA – The Liberty Party faction loyal to Senator Nyonblee Karngar-Lawrence, the political leader has laid series of concerns on the desk of Liberia’s international development partners, including the United States Government through its Embassy near Monrovia, the United Nations, the European Union, ECOWAS, etc against the Chairperson of the National Elections Commission(NEC), Madam Davidetta Brown-Lassanah and the entire Board of Commissioners(BOC) for being biased and playing partisan role in favor of the ruling establishment.
The allegation formed part of the petition statement presented to the international bodies at different intervals of its march held on Friday, October 28, 2022, in Monrovia to inform the institutions about the crises in LP and the possible consequences thereof towards the holding of free, fair and transparent general elections next year.
“Your Excellences, we need not overemphasize the importance of 2023 as it relates to the much anticipated Presidential and Legislative Elections. The stakes in the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections could never be higher. This is why we in the Liberty Party, in particular, and the Liberian nation, in general, are very circumspect about the conduct of individuals who are charged with the responsibility of supervising the elections. This brings us to the Electoral Management Body (EMB) which is charged with the responsibility of conducting said elections in an impartial and even-handed manner.
“The Liberty Party has had a close engagement with the NEC Board of Commissioners during the course of its intra-Party conflict. Over this period, we have seen how the NEC has relegated its non-partisan role to that of a partisan institution that proceeds to embolden the conflict within the Liberty Party”, the statement said.
Enumerating the complaints, the statement said contrary to the Revised Guidelines of the Elections Commission (Sections 3.4) which stipulates that following a party’s convention, the records of the proceedings must be submitted by the Chairperson/presiding officer of the Convention and the secretary, “it was the newly elected Chairman and Secretary General who took it upon themselves to submit the records after concealing the final records including the amended Constitution and the minutes from the Political Leader which was done on February 26, 2021 as brought to the notice of the office of the Political Leader.
“Not only did the two elected officers secretly submit the documents without the knowledge of the Chairperson/Presiding officer of the Convention, but they also proceeded to alter provisions relating to the power relation between the Political Leader and the National Executive Committee. The Political Leader accordingly, informed the NEC that the documents from the convention were submitted outside of the Commission’s Revised Guidelines and that provisions approved by delegates had been altered, thus necessitating a retrieval for correction. The NEC rejected such a request insisting that it could not return the document until properly challenged.
“It went further to mandate that the Liberty Party should proceed to make use of its internal mechanism to resolve the situation. This prompted a meeting of the two conflicting parties held at the Farmington Hotel on October 2, 2021, where it was acknowledged, upon a review of the convention’s records, that indeed provisions were changed. The two parties thus signed a memorandum of understanding in which they expressly agreed to withdraw and correct the altered constitution.
“Even though the Farmington MOU along with the report of the National Advisory Council under whose authority the meeting was held was submitted to the authority of the NEC, the Elections Management Body has remained recalcitrant to honor the document.
“As if this action of the NEC was not sufficient to draw a dim view of its image to the public, the NEC, though one of its Commissioners, Madam Tiplah Reeves, issued a communication to Mr. Musa Bility, the Chairman whose conduct was under question as a result of the alteration, to proceed with a bogus convention, using the very constitution whose provisions he had changed.
The party also said in a further attempt to promote the intra-party conflict, the NEC and Mr. Bility initiated action to organize yet another convention where a new Political Leader was supposed to be elected. The statement said upon seeing notice of said convention, it filed to the Supreme Court for a Writ of Prohibition to prevent the occurrence which necessitated two conferences with Justice Jamesetta Howard-Wolokollie and the current Chief Justice, Her Honor, Sie-A-Nyene Yuoh and of interest was that during the two conferences, the lawyer of the National Elections Commission, His Honor, former Justice M. Wilkins Wright, was present.
The statement further said the Supreme Court mandated that, as agreed in the Farmington MOU, both parties were under obligation to recall and correct the altered Constitution. In fulfillment of its determination to bring the matter to a close, the Court subsequently made available its Library for the parties to converge and correct the Constitution, which was done with no hindrance.
The party further complained to the international community that as a final stage of the exercise, the corrected Constitution was immediately submitted to the NEC on July 11, 2022. “We believe this effort has effectively brought to a close the long-running intra-party conflict. Unfortunately, the NEC again, refused to log the instrument, thereby enabling Mr. Bility to arrogate to himself powers he does not have under the Constitution”, the party said..
“Further to these issues is the Chairperson’s demonstrated conflict of interest exhibited during her corruption case with the Government of Liberia. While the resolution of the Liberty Party case remains morgue at the NEC, she turned to Mr. Musa Bility, a party to the intra-party conflict, to secure a bond for her in the said case. But that was not the only exhibition of conflict of interest. Every time the indicted NEC boss went to court, it was Mr. Bility who escorted her. How in this world could a serious integrity institution conduct itself in such an unprofessional manner?”, the statement asked rhetorically.
“Your Excellences, attached to this statement are records from the side of the Political Leader of the Liberty Party for your perusal. In all of this, we believe the NEC is being used by hidden hands, clearly the ruling party from which it receives instructions, to preside over the systematic disintegration of the Liberty Party, and we are not prepared to see this happen.
“Even as we focus on these repugnant attitudes of the NEC toward the Liberty Party, we feel compelled to mention the potentially crippling effects of the actions of the Chairperson, Madam Davidetta Browne-Lansanah, and her Board of Commissioners on the general state of the Elections Commission as an integrity institution”, the statement stated.
“That you assist Liberia with International IT Experts to be assigned to jointly operate the Data Center in conjunction with NEC Data Team to avoid the fraud that was associated with the 2017 Voter Registration process;
“That the Biometric Voter Registration Gadgetry should be procured by Liberia’s international partner (UNDP) and the software remains in their care to ensure fair play for all; and
“Finally, we appeal to ECOWAS and the United Nations to send a Technical Electoral Team to assess the situation at the NEC about their preparedness for the conduct of the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections”, the statement concluded.