Protesters who besieged the main entrance to the National Elections Commission yesterday demanded that Abu Kamara, who the commission barred from contesting the upcoming elections on grounds that he violated the controversial Code of Conduct (COC), be finally allowed to run for elective office.
The protestors, who were chanting with revolutionary slogans, were also demanding that NEC authorities include on the official list of candidates, Abu Kamara, or else they would disrupt the electoral process.
yesterday’s protest coincided with the first day of official campaigning, which NEC declared opened early Monday morning in keeping with the timeline for the October polls.
The protesters, comprising mainly youth from the Montserrado Electoral District #15, including Logan Town on Bushrod Island, carried with them placards with inscriptions: “No Abu Kamara, no election,” NEC lacks transparency and justice,” etc.
But NEC director of Communications, Henry Flomo told the Daily Observer via mobile phone that the situation was nothing to the commission, “because the protestors had failed to understand the working of the NEC.”
“It is their right to protest, but they should write to notify the commission of whatever qualms they claim to have, but not to come and cause noise in front the facility by blocking the free movement of others. It is totally wrong, but anyway they later left without anyone addressing their concerns,” Flomo said.
In their communication, the protestors claimed that the over 27,000 concerned citizens of the district have converged at NEC headquarters to petition the NEC to see reason to reconsider her decision by allowing Abu Kamara to contest the ensuing elections as independent candidate since he has already resigned from the government in compliance with the CoC.
They claimed that Mr. Kamara was fined by NEC and has since paid the fine in the amount of US$500 and that he has resigned from the government like any other government appointees who desired to contest the elections.
It can be recalled that NEC defended its decision to reject Kamara from contesting the forthcoming legislative election. Prior to his recent resignation, Kamara served as Assistant Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, and was seeking to contest the Montserrado County District #15 representative seat for the second time, but was rejected by the NEC on July 1, for allegedly breaching Article 5.1 of the Code of Conduct for public officials.
Article 5.1 of the code of conduct for public officials states that ministers, assistant, deputy, managing directors, superintendents among others appointed by the president, who are desirous of contesting the elections must resign their posts two years prior to the elections.
Kamara termed NEC’s decision to bar him from contesting the election as illegal, because NEC’s decision taken against him was done without the commission giving any due process as required by Article 21 (a) of the 1986 Constitution.
Article 21 (a) of the 1986 Constitution states that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, security of the person’s property, privilege or any right except as an outcome of a hearing consistent with provisions laid down in the Constitution and in accordance with due process of law.
Just a day after his denial Kamara filed a petition to the Supreme Court praying the high court to issue an alternative writ of prohibition on the decision of NEC on grounds that the election body decision violated his rights under the law.
NEC added that the New Election Law chapter 2 section 2.9 states that in regard to the remedy available to a rejected applicant and the time period within which he or she shall avail himself or herself of the remedy, the relevant part of the candidate nomination regulation states that NEC shall notify all aspirants in writing of its decision to accept or reject their requests to stand the elections as aspirants, whose application has been rejected may appeal NEC’s decision to the Supreme Court within three days of NEC’s determination.
“The decision to reject the petitioner candidacy was consistent with the new election law, the code of conduct and the candidate nomination regulation Article 3.3 subsection (a) May 6, 2016, Article 3.3 subsection (a) mandates that all aspirants must meet the candidate eligibility criteria established in the Constitution and the election laws,” said NEC’s legal counsel.