The Justices of the Supreme Court have questioned the intent of the Congress for Democratic Change’s political involvement in the affairs of the National Patriotic Party, which is part of the ruling Coalition of Democratic Change.
The Justices’ outburst comes as they heard an appeal from the coalition chairman, Mulbah K.Morlu, against the National Election Commission’s decision to recognize Senator H. Dan Morais as the candidate to contest on the Coalition’s ticket in Maryland County, representing the NPP for the pending midterm senatorial election for December 8, 2020.
In a surprise move, the Justices asked Morlu’s lawyers yesterday why the Congress for Democratic Change continues to get involved in the affairs of the NPP.
“Why is it that the CDC is meddling into the intra affairs of the NPP,” the Justices wondered. “Morias is not a CDC candidate he is a candidate of the NPP so [what] role is the CDC playing into this matter before the Supreme Court?”
Shortly afterward, the Justices reserved their ruling into the Morlu’s appeal. The ruling coalition is a conglomeration of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), the National Patriotic Party (NPP), and that of the Liberian People Democratic Party (LPDP).
Morlu’s complaints against Sen. Morias resulted from the decision of the NEC that the ruling Coalition should have not conducted any Primary for the senatorial seat in Maryland County based on article 7(g) and article 30 of the Coalition’s framework agreement.
The agreement and its addendum, according to NEC, gives NPP the right to nominate the Coalition’s senatorial candidate for Maryland County since it is the NPP that currently occupies the seat. The NEC, in its ruling during the cases, earlier said the Coalition violated the rights of Senator Morais when they denied him the exclusive rights as an incumbent senator to contest the pending December 8 senatorial by-elections.
Article 7(g) of CDC’s framework document states: “That parties of the Coalition which have seats in the Legislature shall reserve the right of nomination to the seat. And in constituencies where there is no candidate for Coalition members, the candidates that provide the best option for victory shall be considered as the Coalition’s nominees.”
It is based on this clause of the CDC’s framework that NEC rules that Sen. Morais and all other incumbent Senators who desire to contest in the pending election have automatic right to first preference.
“In reference to the facts derived from the framework that brought together the National Patriotic Party, the Liberia People Democratic Party and the Congress for Democratic Change into the now ruling Coalition of Democratic Change, Sen. Morais and all other incumbent lawmakers who desire to contest an impending election have automatic right to become candidates for the ensuing election,” said Barsee Kpankpa in a ruling on behalf of NEC Board of Commissioners.
However, the CDC through its chairman is now arguing that the NEC does not have the legal authority to declare right or entertain and hear a petition for declaratory judgment. Such authority, Morlu believes, falls under the purview of a court of records, not the NEC.
The party also argued that its Governing Council, the highest decision-making body of the coalition, convened on February 29, 2020 and agreed on and adopted certain policy guidelines for the conduct of primaries for the midterm senatorial election, which effectively overrule the article 7(g) and other agreements in the framework on the matter.
Sen. Morais, in his petition to NEC, argued that the current framework gives the right to the individual political parties in the coalition to decide their candidate, more so when there is already an incumbent with whom they can work.
“For these two by-elections, it was decided by the respondent Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) that for the Senate seat in Montserrado County, the Congress for Democratic Change of President Weah, should nominate a candidate because the seat was once occupied by his party,” the senator said in his petition addressed to the NEC in July.
Similarly, such a situation occurred recently when Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor and her boss, President George Weah, disagreed with each other on who should contest on the coalition ticket in Bong County.
VP Taylor, who herself was a Senator of Bong county before ascending to the post of VP, is in disagreement with Senator Henry Yallah who crossed over to the CDC and begged to be considered as the Coalition’s candidate for Bong County in the upcoming senatorial mid-term elections.
VP Taylor has argued that she cannot support Senator Yallah because the Bong County’s slot belongs to her party, the NPP; therefore, the Coalition erred by conducting primary there without the NPP’s consent.
Earlier, Morlu of the CDC has contended that Sen. Morias is not entitled to benefit from the Coalition Agreement due to his alleged failure to support the Coalition during the 2017 Presidential and general election.