13 September 2017

Liberia: Supreme Court Denies Slawon's Appeal

An appeal filed before the Supreme Court by Nimba County District #9 representative aspirant Michael P. Slawon challenging a decision taken by the National Elections Commission (NEC) to disqualify him from contesting the October 10 elections was yesterday denied by the court. The court's decision was based on the failure of Dr. Slawon's lawyers to file his bill of exception in time.

Slawon's lawyers said the delay was due to a recent political rally that created a traffic gridlock that prevented them from submitting their document to the court on time. Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh, who delivered the court's judgment, said after carefully examining the facts in the case, she found Dr. Slawon's lawyers' excuse for not filing his bill of exception in time as being legally untenable and inexcusable. Accordingly, Justice Yuoh granted the NEC's final ruling against Slawon and denied Slawon's appeal.

On August 17, the NEC revoked Dr. Slawon's acceptance letter, disqualifying him to contest as Liberty Party representative aspirant for Nimba County District#9 for violating the Code of Conduct (CoC), because he did not resign his position as director general of the National Commission on Higher Education up to the time he submitted his application to contest to the NEC. The NEC's decision was signed by six of the seven commissioners on grounds that Slawon untruthfully answered question seven that he was not appointed to a government position.

The NEC maintained that Slawon's false answer to the question "constituted sufficient legal ground to revoke and nullify his acceptance letter issued by the NEC." But Dr. Slawon took exception to the NEC's decision and appealed to the Supreme Court for redress.

The Supreme Court, meanwhile, indicated that Article 83(c) of the Constitution that speaks on post-election complaints and challenges was inapplicable to Dr. Slawon's appeal. "That this case, having originated from the hearing officer and not the Nomination Committee, the applicable law governing this case is provided for in Article 5, sections 5.1 and 5.5 and Article 9, sections 9.1 through 9.5 of the Regulations on Complaints and Appeals promulgated by the NEC, and the respondent/appellant, having failed to complete his appeal within the 48-hour period prescribed by the said Regulations, the Supreme Court lacks the jurisdiction to hear and determine the case on its merits," Justice Youh said in her ruling.


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