Liberia: Liberty Party Sets Up 10-Man Commitee to Investigate Alleged Constitution Tampering
MONROVIA — Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, Political Leader of the opposition Liberty Party (LP), has appointed a 10-man special committee to investigate the alleged tampering of the party’s constitution.
Those appointed are Debar W. Allen (Chairman), Mrs. Carmenia Abdallai, Mr. Harrison S. Karnwea, Hon. Hans Barchue, Cllr. Carlos Smith, Mr. Jacob J. Smith, And Mr. Nathaniel Barnes.
Others include;Hon. Clarice A. Jah, Rev. Eric S. Gbogar, Sr., and Mr. Philip Suah.
The Liberty Party in a statement informed partisans and the public that the Political Leader is working on the modalities to resolve the issue of the alleged altering of its constitution, starting with setting up the investigation board.
“Liberty Party will temporarily revert to the 2015 constitution, which preceded the constitution that is being questioned and withdrawn until the investigation is completed and reports submitted to NEC.”
The statement issued by the party over the weekend, the Party stated they recognize that this is occurring at a critical time when Liberty Party is collaborating with stakeholders within the CPP framework.
“We will continue to engage at the CPP level while ensuring our Party remains true to its ideals. As the Political Leader prepares to host a press conference with additional information as soon as practical, we ask all of our partisans to remain calm and conciliatory within our party. Our goal is to sustain the institution and our culture of following the rule of law.
“The adoption of constitutional amendments was conducted and the election of officers to steer the affairs of the Party was held thereafter.”
The Party also argued that by established procedures, the minutes of the Special National Convention, as well as the amended constitution, should have been forwarded to the Presiding Chair of the convention to validate that the minutes and final draft were aligned with what transpired at the convention.
Upon authenticating the documents, and void of any complaints, the Convention Chair, who presided over the Special Convention and remains the Political Leader, would then sign and approve the amended constitution, thereby legitimizing the documents for submission to the National Elections Commission (NEC).
Additionally, the Adoption of the Amendments preceded the election and the installation of officers with the consequence that the Political Leader, who presided over the Special Convention and remains the Political Leader, is the competent official to ensure the authenticity of the document.
The statement further stated that despite several reminders about the process and requests to have said documents provided immediately following the convention, the above process was not followed.
“The constitution document, minutes, or report of the Special Convention were not sent for review and signature of approval by the Presiding Chair of the Convention, who remains the Political Leader.
“In light of repeated refusal to submit such documents, and months after initial requests were made, the Political Leader learned that the documents had been submitted to the NEC.”
Consequently, the Political leader formally requested and received a copy of the documents from the National Elections Commission. The Political Leader immediately authorized a review of the documents received from NEC, concerned about the breach in established procedures amidst complaints from partisans that the submitted constitution differed from what was agreed upon at the convention.
An analysis of the documents revealed “numerous errors” including potential alterations amidst procedural breaches, the intent of which is subject to conjecture.
“All the above are in violation of established procedures, the Liberty Party By-laws & Constitution, the rules of NEC, amongst others.
“As a result of the aforementioned breach in established procedures and analysis of the submitted documents received from NEC, the Political Leader of Liberty Party, on August 4, 2021, wrote the National Elections Commission to withdraw the 2021 Constitution.”
On July 10, 2021, the Chairman of the Party, Mr. Musa Bility, also wrote to counter the letter of the Political Leader. Subsequently, on Monday, August 16, 2021, the NEC cited the parties to a conference and referred the party to its internal conflict resolution mechanism as per Section 3.3 of its Guidelines governing the conducts of political parties, thus:
“Every Political Party shall ensure the creation of a Grievance and Ethics Committee in its structure. The Grievance and Ethics Committee shall ensure that every partisan is given due process in time of disputes. All intra-party disputes must first be heard and disposed of by the Grievance and Ethics Committee. Partisans who are dissatisfied with a decision of the Grievance and Ethics Committee may appeal to the Executive Committee of the party.”
The decision from NEC asking the party to return to its grievance and ethics committee came as a response to the letter written by the chairman to NEC to counter the letter from the Political Leader to withdraw the constitution, which required a hearing of the matter.
This hearing, requested by Mr. Bility, was denied on Monday because the party had not done the internal investigation.
The political leader who is also the Chairman and the Presiding Officer for the convention has the power to withdraw the Constitution from NEC for investigation, based on several complaints including violations of the procedures by excluding the role of the Convention Chairman to review and sign the constitution, as contained in session 3.4 (d) of NEC’s Guidelines:
“Within 10 days following the convention, a political party shall submit to the Commission a list of its national and local officials, including those of the national executive committee indicating the political sub-division that each of them represents. The said submission shall be made under the signatures of both the chairperson and secretary-general of the Convention committee.”
The investigation being ordered by the Political Leader is also contingent on allegations of Constitution tampering.