Liberia: NEC Giving Bility Greenlight?

…As it reaffirms its position on the validity of LP’s 2021 Constitution

The opposition Liberty Party’s internal wrangling seems to be yet far from over as the National Elections Commission has reaffirmed its recognition for the  Liberty Party 2021 constitution until otherwise amended.

The electoral body comes just a few days after the ‘suspended’ Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence nullified the election that brought the ‘ousted’ Musa Bility to power as chairman of the party. 

Citing Article V,  Section 1 (d) of the 2015 Constitution,  Sen. Karnga-Lawrence moved to nullify the results of chairman Bility January convention, thereby throwing away the amended constitution of 2021, which NEC now recognized.

“We must take responsibility to make the necessary corrections in line with our value of following the rule of law. Given the findings of the Special Investigation Committee which incorporated testimonies of the major actors in the planning and execution of the Convention, and acting in line with Article Five Section 1 (d) of the 2015 Constitution which designates the Political Leader as the Convener of the Special National Convention, we hereby declare the Convention of January 21-23, 2021 nullified,” the ‘suspended’ political leader declared. 

But for NEC,  it is standard practice and procedure that when a party, especially through its Chairperson and/or Secretary-General, submits a notarized document such as a 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."

 “Having reviewed our records, Madam Senator, I would like to take this time to reiterate the Commission's earlier statement to the Liberty that its 2021 notarized constitution submitted to the Commission is deemed proper and remains as such until successfully challenged in keeping with due process or via an amendment by the Party,” NEC via Cllr. P Teplah Reeves, who serves as Co-chairperson of the National Elections Commission wrote.

The letter added that “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 2021 notarized Constitution remains proper with the Commission until successfully challenged or amended as stated in our 23 August 2021 communication to you.”

However,   Sen. Karnga-Lawrence faction of the party, which ousted Bility after he suspended her for claimed of unpaid dues,  has warned the electoral body that they do have a precedent case on this matter, and will not hesitate to pursue the appropriate measure to ensure that the NEC complies with its own ruling, referencing Sections 3.4 of its revised Guidelines governing Political Parties and Independent Candidates. 

The Grand Bassa Senator fraction wrote on November 15, they communicated with the electoral body informing them that the 2021 constitution had been unauthorized and was effectively being withdrawn and no longer ceased to govern the affairs of the party.

“On December 13, we solidified the nullification of the convention by an order which contains all of the reasons for the nullification of the convention. That Order, having been submitted to the NEC, constitutes sufficient notification to that Body. We shall not recant this decision, not even with any attempt by the NEC to interfere in the internal matter of the Liberty Party,” the letter claimed. 

“The party returns to status quo ante. Senator Stephen Zargo assumes the leadership of the Liberty Party as Chairman,” Senator Karnga-Lawrence said. “In the coming days, the Chairman will convene a meeting of all stakeholders, including Musa Hassan Bility, who reverts to his previous role as Chairman of the National Advisory Council, to decide the future of our party.”

Chairman Bility and his team of elected officials, who have refused to accept the “suspended” political leader’s action, termed it as a bluff. And prior to the ‘nullification’ of the chairmanship, Bility had declared Senator Karnga-Lawrence ‘suspended’ from the position of the political leader, for being in arrears of party dues, to the tune of some US$18,000. 

He threatened to expel her from the party if the full amount was not paid within the period January — December 2021. Bility claimed that his action is backed by Article IX of the Liberty Party’s 2021 Constitution.  

Meanwhile, Chairman Bility and his faction too upon receiving a copy of NEC’s letter convened a press conference through which he promised to take even tougher actions against Senators Sen. Karnga-Lawrence, Abe Darius Dillon, and others if they do not settle their due payment in ninety days as provided for by the 2021 constitution of the Liberty Party.

 “We are calling on the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) to respect the decisions of the Liberty Party, mainly taken by the executive committee. We are advising CPP and all other organizations and individuals against doing any business with Senators Sen. Karnga-Lawrence and  Dillon and all others affected by the decision of the executive committee.

“They are not in good standing within the Liberty Party and should therefore not be given any credence,” Bility told newsmen and ladies. Let me reiterate that Dillon, Lawrence, and all others remain suspended until they pay their due. The Liberty Party will do no business with the Alternative National Congress, the All Liberian Party, and the Unity Party if they act against the decision of our party,” he warned.