5 October 2017

Liberia: ANC Condemns Alleged Intimidation By Ruling Unity Party

Monrovia — The Alternative National Congress (ANC) has called for the immediate reinstatement of the Acting Chairman Council of Chiefs and Elders Nelson Neal who was recently dismissed for allegedly partaking in a gathering of 38 chiefs from Nimba County to participate in its political activities in Maryland County.

The ANC called on the National Elections Commission (NEC) and the Government of Liberia to honor the rights of all Liberians to freely associate during this historic electoral process, as outlined and protected by the Liberian Constitution.

The ANC accused the United Party (UP) of suppressing Liberians' democratic rights and using its power of incumbency to stop citizens from freely associating with the political parties of their choice.

"The ANC brings attention to a letter received by Mr. Nelson Neal, Acting Chairman Council of Chiefs and Elders, on Tuesday October 2nd."

"This letter was a directive from Maryland County's Ministry of Internal Affairs relieving him of his duty for "contravening the policies of this government," Lafayette Gould, ANC Chairman said.

Gould added that the chief alleged crime was to participate in an "unauthorized" visit of 38 Chiefs and Elders from Nimba County," in support of the standard bearer of the ANC Mr. Alexander B. Cummings.

The ANC Chairman further called upon the international community to condemn all acts of intimidation and suppression that fundamentally undermine the integrity of Liberia's electoral process.

There are also reports of over 20 town and clan chiefs being threatened with dismissal in Maryland County for allegedly pledging their support to opposition political parties.

Incumbency Power

On Tuesday, the ANC alleged that the ruling party was using its incumbency power to secure facilities that were denied other political parties for campaign purposes.

In addition, the ANC said the UP was infringing on their right to due electoral process by announcing that they'll hold their final campaign rally on October 7, a set also chosen by the ANC for the same purpose.

"To protect its right to freely complete in the country's 2017 elections, the ANC is officially lodging a complaint before the NEC, and with all international observers and international missions, accusing the ruling party of exerting undue influence on the electoral process to deny other parties the right to freely association and to get their message out," ANC said.

ANC added -"We hereby protest the suppression of legitimate political expression in Liberia, and call on all parties to honor the Code of Conduct, the Farmington River Declaration, and NEC standard procedures."

In Cllr Jerome Korkoya's statement during his Wednesday weekly press briefing, he admitted to claims by the UP of submitting their campaign time table since August 25th but said, the UP did not specify a location for their campaign closure.

According to the NEC chair, unlike the UP, the ANC were specific about location for campaign launch in their campaign agenda presented to the NEC.

Korkoya said; "In the interest of Public safety the National Elections Commission has informed the Unity party that it should look at other options for holding its rally. An official letter is being sent presently.

"We have explained to them that the ANC submitted their full details of the event first and in the interest of fairness the national Elections Commission believes it should be able to hold its rally on the 7th of October."

In furthered comments Korkoya assured the Public that the UP informed the NEC that they were considering the position of the commission and will revert to the commission and that the Commission was convinced that its position in the matter will be acted by all parties.

Communication of proof

On his Facebook page, Mr. Mo Ali, Unity Party campaign spokesman, said the UP, since its formation, has operated peacefully with full adherence to the rule of law.

According to him from the onset of the 2017 elections campaign, the National Election Commission (NEC) requested all political parties and independent candidates participating in the elections to submit their campaign activity plans for the duration of the campaign, a requirement that the UP fully adhered to.

Mo Ali furthered exhibited evidence by posting on his Facebook page a screenshot of the letter sent to the NEC.

He explained on his Facebook page that all of the communications are proof that the UP, as per her campaign activity plan, did comply with the election laws throughout the campaign period.

"In the spirit of peace and accommodation for other political parties, the UP upon hearing that the Alternative National Congress (ANC) was planning its campaign closure on the same date and was intending to use the ATS, the UP decided to find an alternative venue for its campaign closure program.

In the same spirit of accommodation, the UP also decided that it will not hold a parade; instead, its partisan and supporters will simply assemble for the campaign closure program at the designated venue.

Additionally, the UP decided to move its campaign closure program far away from the city of Monrovia to the City of Paynesville.

"We also like to inform the ANC that a precedent was set in 2011 when the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and the UP ere allowed by the NEC to hold their respective campaign closure rallies on the same date (Sunday, October 9, 2011). No untoward incident occurred in spite of the fact that these political parties are widely considered to be the two largest political parties in Liberia," Ali added.

Official campaigning period ends on Sunday at 12:00 mid-night this weekend. According to the NEC campaign activities have been largely peaceful.

The NEC chair also reminded political parties and independent candidates that pursuant to the powers afforded the commission by section 5.1b of the regulations and guidelines relating to political parties and independent candidates the campaign will end at midnight on Sunday 8, October 2017 in line with the published election calendar.

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