Liberia: Sen. Lawrence Takes NEC to Task for Recognizing Bility

Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence . 

Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence has demanded that the National Elections Commission stop referring to Musa Bility as chairman of the party, saying he no longer serves in that position.

The Liberty Party, in which the Grand Bassa County Senator serves as a political leader, is split between factions loyal to her and its Chairman, Musa Bility, whose leadership is still being legally recognized by the electoral body along with the Senator.

“We are again making it crystal clear to you that Mr. Bility no longer serves as Chairman of Liberty Party, and therefore cannot make any representation before you in the name of the Party,” Senator Karnga Lawrence stressed. “You will kindly refer to the Special Investigative Report submitted to you regarding the nullification of the January 2021 Convention for the lack of quorum, and the subsequent bill of information provided by us.” 

Both Bility and Sen. Karnga-Lawrence have, for a considerable period, been engaged in a tit-for-tat battle that has ruined the relationship. Bility is on record for having suspended and later expelled the party’s political leader, Senator Karnga-Lawrence, for alleged unpaid dues. He then assumed the acting political leader position. 

Senator Karnga-Lawrence, in turn, nullified Bility’s chairmanship, claiming that her action was based on a report by a Special Investigative Committee, which uncovered that the election that brought Bility to power was “marred by procedural errors”.

She then sought to return the party to status quo ante under the chairmanship of Senator Stephen Zargo and, a few months later, her faction found Bility and others blameworthy for sowing divisions and bringing the party into disrepute. She then moved to expel him from the party along with his Secretary-General Martin Kollah.

The Senator’s letter also reminded NEC of its statement made at the signing ceremony of the Protocol on Violence against Women, in Buchanan that since the party had a matter pending, none of its representatives would be allowed to sign the document until the matter is resolved. 

“During that forum, the NEC informed the public that because Liberty Party has a matter pending before you, no representation of the party would be allowed to sign the document until the matter is resolved. While on the strength of the aforementioned Investigative report and bill of information, said pronouncement by NEC would not suffice, we take it that you will give substance to that position of yours, by not entertaining any representation from Mr. Bility who now purports as Chairman of the party, until the condition stated by you is satisfied.”

Sen. Karnga-Lawrence noted that it is extremely important at this point the electoral body handling Liberty Party matters has drawn the independence, neutrality, and credibility of NEC into question. 

“It would therefore be well-advised that you strictly comply with your mandate as stated in the requisite laws that created the NEC, and not be an enabler of disintegration in any political party, not even Liberty Party. Our intervention here is triggered by a citation from the NEC inviting Mr. Bility and other party chairmen to a meeting intended to hear a complaint bordering on issues affecting the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP).”

Recently, the Alternative National Congress and Bility-faction of the LP, had on March 21 written NEC to invoke Section 8.5 (2) CPP framework document as a means of rejecting and denying “any application from the ALP and UP to field candidates in their own names in any election until the expiry of the 2023 elections, including up to six (6) months thereafter, same being the agreed contractual life of the CPP.”

“Section 8.5 (2) of the CPP framework document states that: Constituent Party desiring to withdraw from the CPP shall first exhaust the dispute resolution mechanism stipulated in the framework document,” the letter disclosed.  “If the Constituent Party which has satisfied the dispute resolution mechanism is not satisfied with the outcome, it shall file a resolution to withdraw from the CPP signed and duly executed by two-thirds (2/3) of the membership of the National Executive Committee, it is being understood, however, that a party withdrawing from the alliance prior to the next presidential, legislative and local elections shall not field candidates in its name.”

The letter in question was signed by Bility and Martin Kollah, Secretary-General of Bility’s Liberty Party faction, and Daniel Naatehn and Aloysius Toe, Chairman and Secretary-General of the ANC respectively.

The widening rift is a spillover of an open accusation by Senators Karnga-Lawrence and Dillon on the one hand, as well as Daniel Sando, an aide to the party’s political leader, that the party’s chairman Bility and secretary-general made dubious changes to the party’s constitution.

Then chairman Bility and secretary-general Martin Kollah denied the allegations but took revenge by suspending Sen. Dillon and Sando for “making several unauthorized public utterances, including derogatory statements against the chairman and executives.”

In the end, the Liberty Party has been entangled in one problem after another which, at any given time, can be kick-started by the two leaders or their supporters – thus underscoring the growing challenge they faced in exerting control over the party and unifying it.