Liberia: Liberty Party Political Leader, Chairman Clash over Alleged Altercation of Party’s Constitution

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MONROVIA – The chairman and political leader of the Liberty Party (LP) are in disagreement over the authenticity of the party’s amended constitution submitted to the National Elections Commission, hence, the political leader, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, has withdrawn the constitution from the Elections Commission.

In a communication addressed to the chairperson of the National Elections Commission, Madam Davidetta Brown-Lansannah, Sen. Karnga-Lawrence stated that several laid out and accepted processes were not followed before the submission of the amended constitution.

According to the political leader, the amended constitution submitted by the party chairman, Mr. Musa H. Bility was neither reviewed nor approved by her. She stated that the minutes/report of the Special Convention which she presided over was also not reviewed or approved by her.

“A preliminary analysis, after a receipt of said document from your office upon my request, has revealed numerous errors including potential alterations amidst procedural error and breaches, the intent of which is subject to conjecture,” she stated in her communication to the NEC.

The communication continued: “All the above are in violation of established procedures, the Liberty Party By-laws & constitution, the rules of the NEC, amongst others. However, to maintain party unity, and arrive at a solution, I am appointing an inquiry committee. In the interim, the last adopted constitution of 2015 and filed with the National Elections Commission within the statutory time shall govern the affairs of the Liberty Party.”

Chairman’s Reaction

The party chairman, however, is not taking the allegations levied against him and the withdrawal of the constitution lightly. In a response to the political leader’s communication to the NEC on which he is copied, he insisted that all that was done to submit the amended constitution was done rightfully.

Mr. Bility recalled that in January 2020, during the LP Reconciliatory Rereat held in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) was convened and mandated to carry out a review and revision of the LP Constitution within 45 days.

He stated that, due to the onset of COVID, the CRC’s work was delayed and in July 2020 a draft revised Constitution was submitted to the relevant LP authorities – Political Leader, National Executive Committee, County Chairs, and Executive Council and Special Convention Committee – for their written input.

The Executive Council (EC) Sitting was held from August 1-2, 2020 in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, to review and approve the proposed amendments and adopt the new LP Constitution.

He further recalled that on day one of the Executive Council Sitting encompassed a side-by-side review of the existing LP Constitution against the proposed draft. Several additional proposals were made for inclusion and after an entire day of review and deliberations some proposals were accepted and same were incorporated into the final draft LP Constitution which you authenticated by signing each and every page.

Day two of the EC Sitting encompassed a review of the final draft LP Constitution which was subsequently adopted and signed by Sen. Karnga-Lawrence as presiding officer and the Chair of the Constitution review process.

He stated that all proposed amendments were recorded in the Executive Council Sitting Report which clearly showed all of the amendments approved and was published thereafter for comments. There were no comments or objections received and the Report was subsequently accepted.

Mr. Bility indicated that contrary to Sen. Karnga-Lawrence’s claim that the procedures were not followed, she acknowledged the legitimacy of the process in her special order to the national executive council in November 2020.

“You congratulated LP “for a successful Special Executive Council sitting, during which proposed revisions to the 2015 LP Constitution were reviewed and adopted, and consolidated into the revised LP Constitution, opening up the party for a more democratic and open form of collective leadership,” he stated.

He added, “Upon revision of the 2015 Constitution, proposed changes were made, voted on and adopted by 98% of the delegates at the Executive Council sitting on August 1-2, 2020 in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, as recorded in the Planning Committee Report on the Executive Council Sitting…which was accepted by the Executive Committee in a meeting presided over by Chairman Zargo.”

Mr. Bility, among other things, further noted that since the adoption of the 2021 LP Constitution in January 2021, the Party has operated under the new Constitution with no challenge. He stated that the very constitution that is now be contested by Sen. Karnga-Lawrence and the National Executive Committee was used as the legal authority to nominate/appoint Eminent Partisans to the National Executive Committee and National Advisory Council.

“I was therefore astonished to receive a letter from you dated June 22, 2021 informing me that “scores of partisans…have complained about discrepancies in the Constitution, including the National Vice-Chair for Political Affairs, Senator Abraham Darius Dillon” and that there are “escalating concerns from members of the Executive Committee relative to the Constitution not reflecting what was voted on in Gbarnga,” he asserted.

According to Bility, on Wednesday, July 28, 2021, the political leader convened a meeting of the LP NEC, NAC and County Chairs to discuss the complaints brought forward in her June 22 letter. During this meeting,  he stated that, Sen. Dillon, instead of presenting evidence of the discrepancies in the constitution, undertook a review of specific sections of the constitution – a process that has already been concluded prior to the Gbarnga Convention, according to Bility.

Bility: “The sections Sen. Dillon was concerned with were those having to do with the powers of the Political Leader. He claimed that he made a motion in Gbarnga for the Political Leader powers to be restored and that the motion was accepted. Contrary to this claim, minutes and video evidence produced during that meeting at our HQ debunked Sen. Dillon’s claim that he made a motion and that the motion was passed on by the Convention.”

Bility further indicated that at the Buchanan Executive Council Sitting, Sen. Darius Dillon proffered the motion to adopt the new constitution as follows: “Having had a very comprehensive review of our Constitution with sufficiency of discussion and inputs and having concluded the process that serves the basis for the adoption, I move, if I can obtain a second, that the reviewed constitution be adopted as the Liberty Party New Constitution”.

Deputy SG Daniel Sando seconded the motion and it was passed with an affirmative vote of 31 with none against or abstaining, thereby bringing into effect the new constitution of Liberty Party.

Bility: “It is, therefore, baffling that you and Sen. Dillon would now want to suggest that LP subjects itself to giving all powers within the Party to a single person, the Political Leader, and not the decentralized and democratic practice of using the LP NEC and Special National Convention as prescribed. It begs the question of why now, seven months after the adoption of the Constitution, and towards what agenda, especially given that a main component of the Constitution review process was to “open up the party for a more democratic and open form of collective leadership” as stated by yourself in your Special Order to the Executive Council.”

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