After denying request by citizens of Rivercess County to revoke the candidacy of Superintendent Willington Geevon Smith, the National Elections Commission has been taken to the Supreme Court of Liberia.
Denying the citizen’s petition on Thursday, August 21, Attorney Muana S. Ville, chief dispute hearing officer of NEC declared that “Request to have Superintendent Willington Geevon Smith’s candidacy revoked from contesting the special senatorial election is hereby denied.”
However, the citizens in their complaint told the election body that Mr. Smith has refused to resign his position as superintendent after winning the primary of the Unity Party to serve as their senatorial aspirant in the forth coming special senatorial elections.
Justifying his action, Atty. Ville said while it is true that after winning the Unity Party primary to contest the pending special senatorial election Mr. Smith should have resigned his Superintendent position in line with Legislative code of conduct, the citizens failed to file their complaint three days after NEC published the provisional listing of qualified candidates in the dailies.
“We published the listing on July 28, 2014, and they filed their complaint on August 4, 2014, meaning seven days after the publication. Under the elections guideline, they should have submitted their complaint three days after the publication, therefore, the petition is hereby denied and Mr. Smith is hereby qualified to contest the elections.”
Following the NEC’s ruling, lawyers representing the Rivercess citizens protested against the decision and announced an appeal before the Supreme Court for an interpretation of Section 5.2 of the Legislative Code of Conduct and Article 5 of that code.
They argued that the election body was in error to deny their request, claiming it is a contradiction of Section 5.2 of the Legislative code of conduct.
Quoting that section, the citizens said, it states that any minister, deputy minister, director general, managing director and superintendent appointed by the President who desires to contest for any public elective office shall resign said post at least two years prior to the date of such public election.
They further quoted “Any other officials appointed by the President who hold a tenured position and desire to contest for public elective office shall resign said position three years prior to the date of such public election.
Also quoting Article 5 of the code of conduct, the citizens said, “That official of government appointed by the president shall not engage in political activities, canvass or contest elected offices; use government facilities, equipment, resources in support of partisan of political activities; serve on a campaign team of any political party, or on the campaign of any independent candidate.”
The Supreme Court's decision is yet to be determined.