– Says UP’s efforts are only distraction tactics
The chief hearing officer at the National Elections Commission (NEC), Cllr. Muana S. Ville, yesterday denied and dismissed the Unity Party’s case requesting solidarity intervention in support of the Liberty Party (LP) complaint about the alleged October 10 election irregularities.
Presenting his ruling on the matter, Ville said, “Having heard all arguments from both legal teams and witnesses of UP and NEC on the UP’s request to intervene in the LP’s October 10 polls alleged irregularities, this hearing office hereby denies and dismisses the UP’s request.”
Ville cited Article 83 (c) of the constitution which says, after the conduct of elections the NEC has 15 days to announce results; and therefore, immediately after the announcement of the results any aggrieved party is guaranteed the right as provided for in Section 5.61 to file a complaint to the NEC before moving on to the Court.
Section 5.61 says “In civil proceedings law it is incumbent upon any aggrieved party or individual to file a complaint if desired in a period of seven days as of the date of the announcement of results.”
Referencing the Kuku Dorbor case on January 6, 2012, on an alleged electoral fraud discovered in Montserrado District #3, Cllr. Ville said it is not applicable to the case involving the UP, NEC as well as the LP.
For his part, the head legal counsel for the NEC, Cllr. Musa Dean, argued that inasmuch as the UP failed to follow the law they claimed should protect them and others alike, they have nothing to benefit, and more so from the LP which is another political contestant in the October 10 elections.
“In law, the word ‘must’ is a very strong expression indicating a matter of no compromise. It means ‘compulsory or a matter of force to obey,” he said, noting that UP wants to circumvent the law so as to achieve a goal, not in the interest of the country.
He said UP wrote the NEC on October 30 requesting to have a meeting with the Commission to discuss issues related to irregularities but did not submit a formal complaint of any kind. “UP’s action is only suggesting a crisis. They are saying ‘we want a crisis’ instead of raising any logical point in the interest of protecting the nation’s peace,” Cllr. Dean noted.
He said the Liberty Party does not want UP, but UP is forcing herself on the LP. “I see no reason why UP should be crying out foul when they have succeeded in becoming one of the two parties to contest the presidential runoff. They are campaigning nationwide and are not supporting the LP in their request for the rerun of elections filed before the Supreme Court,” he said.
Cllr. Varney Sherman, who led the legal team of the UP at the hearing, meanwhile argued that the laws cited by the NEC’s legal team are only intended to protect a particular contestant in the runoff.
According to him, there was nothing wrong in the UP’s intervention and the NEC had no injury to sustain thereof. “NEC is a nominal party but from the look of trending issues it is like NEC is no longer a neutral party,” he said.
He noted that the NEC should admit to their errors and not to cry wolf on behalf of another party. “Time limitation as quoted from Section 5.61 is not for the NEC but the primary party and in this case the LP and UP now joining them in sincere solidarity to condemn electoral frauds,” he said.
He noted that the Liberty Party erred by not serving all the participating political parties, including the UP, their complaint filed to the NEC on election irregularities; and the NEC, too, erred for not inviting all the parties, most especially the UP, which has succeeded to go for the runoff.
Cllr. Sherman, however, accepted the ruling from the Commission’s hearing officer and promised to obey the laws of the land.
In a related development, the Alternative National Congress (ANC) has also expressed support to the Liberty Party in its fight against the alleged election fraud.
The Alternative National Congress’ National Party Chairman Lafayette O. Gould said in a statement, released yesterday, that after the October 10 election results, the party’s standard bearer, Alexander B. Cummings, announced the ANC’s intention to explore and challenge the integrity and subsequent validity of the outcome of the elections.
“To this end, we engaged expert assistance and conducted a detailed review of our findings. Although the final findings reveal gross and widespread improprieties, we came after the deadline for filing complaints with the National Elections Commission,” he said.
Nonetheless, he said the party intends to catalog and release its findings to the public in an effort to help improve “our electoral process and illustrate the Alternative National Congress’ commitment to democracy, transparency and better governance.”
He added: “The ANC would like to also state its support of the Liberty Party’s official complaint to the National Elections Commission.”
Gould said the ANC and its standard bearer promised to continue to be dedicated to creating change and reform in Liberia. “We ask all partisans and Liberians to continue to remain calm during this very difficult period in our democracy. We must remain steadfast and peaceful in the preservation of the peace and stability of our great nation.”