The New Dawn (Monrovia)

Liberia: Political Parties Defy NEC

Twenty (20) political parties whose registration and certification risk revocation of the National Elections Commission (NEC) have in the strongest term, dismissed the NEC's petition filed before the Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia.

The parties described the petition as a hunt-down of legitimately registered and recognized political parties in the country. According to them, the commission's action is a witch-hunt orchestrated to confuse the electorate ahead of election.

The parties argued that no part of the Constitution of Liberia gives the National Elections Commission the power to penalize political parties it believes are in constitutional breach.

The NEC recently filed a petition before the civil law court, seeking the revocation of registration and certification of 20 political parties, including the National Union for Democratic Progress or NUDP and Citizens Unification Party or CUP, amongst others.

The NEC said its action is in line with Article 79(c) of the Liberian Constitution, which requires that the headquarters of registered political parties should be situated in the capital city, and Article 83(d) which mandates political parties to publish and submit their sources of funding and assets, including bank balance of US$10,000 and expenditures on the 1st of September each year, no later than thirty (30) days prior to the holding of an election.

The NEC in its petition against the parties also cited Part II, Chapter IV of the Electoral Guidelines which provides for penalties against political parties specifically revocation of registration and certification upon failure to adhere to both articles 79(c) and 83(d) in the provisions of the Constitution.

With the petition filed by the NEC, it is incumbent upon the political parties concerned to make their returns after 10 days, something the parties said they did on February 20, 2014 through their lawyers.

But the 20 political parties in a joint press conference held at the headquarters of the National Union for Democratic Progress (NUDP) said, the NEC is in grave error by not taking into consideration Article 84 of the Constitution, which gives the Legislature the power to provide penalties by law for any violations, not the NEC.

They described the NEC's action as reckless, capricious, and malicious as well as a demonstration of power beyond the contemplation of the authors of the Constitution of Liberia.

Reading the joint statement signed by all of the 20 political parties, the National Chairman of the Citizens Unification Party (CUP), Momolu Freeman said: "We, the current protectors of our democracy hold to the fact that the NEC led by Cllr. Jerome Korkoyah failed to understand Article 80(b) of our law, and at such, political parties henceforth have lost confidence in the NEC."

Freeman said shortly, the parties will petition the 53rd Legislature for a vote of no confidence in the NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoyah.

However, NEC Communication Director Joey Kennedy told the NewDawn that the commission would not respond to the parties as the matter is already before the Civil Law Court.

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