Written By T.R Dixon
MONROVIA: The former ruling Unity Party (UP), has made it clear that any attempt to deny it the opportunity and right to represent the people of Lofa County will be met with stiff political opposition and sustained legal Actions.
UP, of which former Vice President of Liberia, Joseph Nyuma Boakai, is the political leader, strongly indicated that it represents the aspirations and political will of hundreds of thousands of Liberians.
The ex-governing party, through its National Chairman, Amin Modad, reassured its partisans and sympathizers that, “no matter how deep and well planned this grand conspiracy to exclude the party from the bi-election in Lofa and subsequent elections are, it will do everything within the ambit of the Laws of Liberia to ensure UP’s participation in every election in Liberia.
Addressing a news conference held at the party’s National Headquarters on Broad Street on Tuesday, April 12, 2022, the UP Chairman noted that emphatically, the party will field candidates in the Lofa bi-election and the 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections.
He maintains that the rights of UP and its candidates are fully guaranteed by the Constitution of Liberia.
“What we see is a very clear and scandalous attempt to target and eliminate the Unity Party and its Standard Bearer, Amb. Joseph N. Boakai, from the 2023 general and presidential elections,” he said.
Chairman Modad further narrated that even after stating very clearly in a sworn statement that the Framework Document of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), submitted to the National Elections Commission (NEC) was not the same Framework Document signed by the Unity Party on May 19, 2020, yet the National Elections Commission (NEC), would incautiously want to hold UP by a clause in a controversial document that they are not a signatory to.
According to him, “the litmus test to this grand scheme of exclusion of the Unity Party in the 2023 Presidential Elections is the Lofa County senatorial bi-election, something, he noted, is intriguingly violating NEC’s own guidelines and timeline.”
Modad maintains that the National Elections Commission (NEC), has deliberately refused to publish the provisional list of registered candidates which should have been done on April 4, 2022.
“The Unity Party wants to make it very explicit and pray that this should claim the urgent attention of the Government of Liberia as well as the International Community (specifically ECOWAS, EU, and the US). We were robbed of our senatorial victory in Lofa; the citizens of Lofa were subjugated and denied their suffrage; the UP will no longer sit supinely and allow the rights of the people it represents to be trampled upon by a system marred by duplicity, intolerance, and a clear intent to embroil the democratic process into chaos,” Chairman Modad said.
He disclosed that, upon the publishing of the guidelines for the Lofa County bi-elections for a vacancy created in the Senate “as a result of a politically orchestrated witch-hunt against our candidate, Brownie Samukai, who democratically and legitimately won the seat, the Unity Party submitted the completed form required for nominating their candidate, Mr. Galakpai Kortimai, for the bi-election scheduled for May 10, 2022.”
He pointed out that, on March 24, 2022, Messers Musa Hassan Bility, Martin Saye Kollah and the Alternative National Congress (ANC), after removing the Unity Party and the All Liberian Party from all forums and chat groups, wrote a letter (not a complaint) to the National Elections Commission with basically two concerns: Seeking clarity and advice on the status of the UP and the ALP within the CPP, asking the NEC not to allow the UP and the ALP to register candidates in their own names for the Lofa bi-election.
He stressed that, for their first count, they thought that they were being extremely disingenuous as the UP had written the 3 other parties, duly informing them about its withdrawal from the CPP.
On March 25, 2022, the party received a notice of assignment to appear for hearing on March 28, 2022, before NEC Hearing Officer, Atty. Fomba Swaray.
Chairman Modad stated that the UP Lawyers argued that the case was manufactured by the NEC, out of a simple letter written by Musa Bility and the ANC and that the letter be thrown out on two major counts; that the National Elections Commission is an administrative body, hence, it cannot declare rights as was being requested by those who wrote the letter and the NEC was not an Advisory Board, hence, it is not in the position to render advice to any political party.
The Unity Party National Chairman indicated that, the Hearing Officer ruled in the affirmative to their arguments but yet insisted that he would still hear the case. “This is massively baffling as the two paramount reasons for which the letter was written were ruled against,” the UP Chairman stressed.
He wonders: “What other case the hearing officer wants to hear again remains a misery to this end, their very brilliant lawyers filed a petition for judicial review on the Hearing Officer with the NEC’s Board of Commissioners.”
He noted that, as expected, the Board of Commissioners upheld the ruling of the hearing officer and asked him to resume jurisdiction over the case, upon the publishing of the guidelines for the Lofa County bi-election for a vacancy created in the Senate.
He said UP’s decision to withdraw from the CPP was a Resolute Moral Protest against the alteration of the Framework Document that embodied the very collaboration and its credibility and that the party’s withdrawal was in line with our constitutional right and in the interest of the people we are obligated to serve.
The Unity Party National Chairman indicated that, it was also incumbent on them to circumvent all threats and ploys to weaken our ability to provide that leadership alternative, thus in keeping with the rules and guidelines set forth by the National Elections Commission (NEC), the Unity Party submitted a notarized resolution signed by more than 2/3rd majority of its Executive Committee to the NEC, informing it about the party’s withdrawal from the CPP.
“The UP prudently followed all due processes and subsequently informed all parties in the collaboration of our withdrawal. The resolution stated in succinct and unambiguous terms, the reasons why the UP parted ways with the CPP,” he said:
He stated that the Unity Party entered into a collaboration in 2020 with three other political parties, All Liberian Party (ALP), Alternative National Congress (ANC) and Liberty Party (LP) forming the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP); and Pursuant to Section 8.5 of the New Elections Law of Liberia, the National Executive Committee of the Unity Party, by absolute majority of its membership, did sign and file with the National Elections Commission, a resolution to form an alliance with the ALP, ANC and Liberty Party.
Chairman Modad said that the ALP, as a constituent member of the CPP, complained that the CPP Framework Document filed with the National Elections Commission was altered and an Investigative Committee of the CPP found that the CPP Framework Document filed with NEC by the ANC on behalf of the collaboration was different than the original five copies signed and approved by the constituent parties.
He said all efforts by the three other constituent parties, ALP, LP and UP to get the ANC to acknowledge its fault and settle for a resolution of the problem for the success of the collaboration have failed.
“Unity Party cannot be bound by the Framework Document filed with NEC, because the party did not sign it and find its authenticity questionable, Pursuant to Article 17 of the Constitution of Liberia, the right to associate or refuse to associate in political parties, trade unions or other organizations is a fundamental right that cannot be enjoined,” he said.
Chairman Modad emphasized that after the submission of the resolution, the NEC requested the UP to meet three requirements in order to complete its withdrawal from the CPP which includes submission of an indemnity bond, valued at US$100, 000.00, submission of the party’s bank statement so that the NEC would be able to verify if the party meets the required bank balance of US$10,000 minimum or its equivalence in Liberian Dollars.
He said after doing that, UP invited the NEC to inspect the party’s headquarters and the Unity Party, being a law- abiding institution, fulfilled all of these requirements and the NEC has since been operating with the UP as an independent registered political party under the laws of Liberia.