Liberia: NEC Ruling Gives Ex-President Sirleaf, 4 Others Greenlight to Retain Party Membership
Monrovia – The Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission (NEC) has reversed the chief dispute hearing officer’s ruling in matters involving the suspension of several key Partisans of the Former ruling Unity Party.
Henry Karmo [email protected]
The ruling which came down moments ago, states that the January 13, 2018 expulsion decision by some members of the UP was made without the two-thirds vote required by the UP constitution. “The January 13, 2018 expulsion decision in this matter, having been made without the two-thirds vote required by the UP constitution, is hereby declared null and void as having no legal effect upon Appellants, that is to say Mr. Patrick Worzie, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Senator Conmany Wesseh and Madam Medina Wesseh.”
Attorney Miller Katakar, representing the UP took exception to the ruling and promised to file a redress to the Supreme Court.
Commissioner Johnathan Weedor is the only NEC commissioner out of seven board commissioners who did not sign the ruling.
The NEC board also expressed concerned over the protracted period the case remained before the hearing officer. “While request for continuance is a part of the investigative process, the Board hereby reminds all hearing officers of the NEC that the responsibility to control their respective dockets lies with them. And absent extraordinary circumstances, all cases should be concluded within a reasonable time.
Part of the ruling, the NEC Board of Commissioners stated that the facts in the case made it clear that the Appellants were not accorded due process. The NEC furthered that the record showed that the hearing officer granted Appellees’ motion to trike the et al petitioners from Appellants complaint.
The Board says that the hearing officer erred in so ruling. The record shows that the Appellants filed their complaint on January 19, 2018. Upon receipt of the complaint and citation for hearing, Appellees filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on several grounds, one of which included the argument that the unidentified “et al” persons in the caption of the complaint did not give them sufficient notice.
In 2018 the Unity Party expelled Nobel Peace laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The party has claimed that she meddled in the 2017 elections and failed to support Vice President Joseph Boakai in his presidential bid.
The former President and four other party members were expelled from their party. According to Unity Party leaders, Sirleaf held meetings with election officials before the presidential election on October 10, 2017.
Her Vice President Boakai lost the presidential race to former football star George Weah in the run-off election despite Mr. Boakai’s claim that the 2017 elections was marred by widespread fraud.
“The January 13, 2018 expulsion decision in this matter, having been made without the two-thirds vote required by the UP constitution, is hereby declared null and void as having no legal effect upon Appellants, that is to say Mr. Patrick Worzie, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Senator Conmany Wesseh and Madam Medina Wesseh.”Excerpts from National Elections Commission Ruling
“The behavior of the expelled persons constitutes sabotage and undermined the existence of the party,” a statement from the party said. The statement added that Sirleaf had violated party rules by meddling in the elections and failing to support the party’s presidential candidate.
During the campaign it was speculated that Sirleaf did not support her deputy Boakai’s bid for the presidency when she failed to appear at his side during key campaign events. The party’s assistant press secretary, Mo Ali, alleged at the time that Sirleaf had ordered people to campaign for Weah.
Sirleaf became Liberia’s first post-war president in 2006. She has been credited with stabilizing the country after the civil war and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her efforts. Toward the end of her presidency, however, she was increasingly criticized for allegedly shielding her family from being investigated on allegations of corruption. The lack of development, particularly in terms of infrastructure and roads also earned harsh criticism from the opposition.