Judge Rejects Request for ‘Declaratory Judgment’ in Election Saga

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Two senior partisans of the Unity Party (UP) have filed a lawsuit asking Civil Law Court ‘B’ to declare their rights against the party’s County Convention 2016 Election Guidelines preventing government officials from contesting any post, as unconstitutional and contrary to decisions of the National Convention.

Judge Jonannes Zogbay Zlahn on Friday denied K. Berk Kansuah, Assistant Minister at the Ministry of Transport (MOT), and Vamba Kanneh, Commissioner of the Township of Gardnersville’s request for “Declaratory Judgment” to nullify the result of the Montserrado County election, for which they were not allowed to contest for positions.

As of the request, Zlahn said the complainants did not produce any documentary or oral evidence to show they applied for specific positions, paid the required fees and were rejected from contesting at the Montserrado County convention because they were presidential appointees.

“They willfully failed to meet their burden of proof, as a result of not showing that they applied and were denied by the Party’s County Convention 2016 Election Guidelines, which made their request unclear and ambiguous for the court to accept,” the civil law court judge said.

The suit was filed by Kansuah and Kanneh for “Declaratory Judgment” against a clause by UP’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and its County Convention Committee (CCC) that all presidential appointees are disallowed to contest in the elections.

The clause, they argued, not only disallowed them from contesting in the party’s county convention but that it is also a violation of their rights as bona fide members, for contravening the UP constitution and is contrary to the National Convention decisions in Gbarnga, Bong County, in July 2016.

They argued that the party’s NEC, the highest decision making body, endorsed party members that were presidential appointees to contest at the Gbarnga convention, during which some were elected to major positions in the party, including the national senior vice chair for interparty affairs, national secretary general, deputy secretary general and national deputy secretary general for youth congress.

In counter argument, Unity Party’s lead lawyer, Attorney Miller B. Catakaw, said the guideline was promulgated pursuant to and in keeping with the party’s constitution, which gives legislative policymaking, electoral power and managerial power and authority to the party’s NEC and NCC, adding, “It does not violate the party’s constitution.”

“If they wanted to contest as members desirous of seeking county position in the ensuing UP conventions, then they should have brought themselves squarely within the guidelines by resigning their presidential appointed positions to be qualified to contest for elected posts,” Catakaw said in his argument.

Atty. Catakaw argued that Kansuah and Kanneh have their constitutional rights to fully associate with or refuse to associate with the UP.

“Since they have elected to associate with the party, therefore they are under legal obligation to abide by all rules, laws and guidelines promulgated by the UP,” the party’s lawyer noted, adding “this does not violate or deprive any member of their rights under the UP convention as they have alleged.”

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