Liberia: NEC Board Upholds Re-Run Ruling

-But Kamara's lawyers take exception

Although Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya, chairman of the Board of Commissioners (BoC) of the National Elections Commission (NEC), did not agree with his colleagues of the need to uphold the ruling of the election disputes Hearing Officer, Cllr. Muana Sando Ville, the BoC on Thursday, August 22, 2019 upheld the ruling that there should be a re-run at the six affected precincts in Montserrado District #15.

It can be recalled that on Wednesday August 14, 2019, the chief election disputes hearing officer, Cllr. Ville sat alongside his fellow election disputes hearing officers, and ruled that there should be a re-run at the six quarantined precincts for "gross disrespect on the part of Floyd Sayon, director of NEC data center, by not adhering to Korkoya's instruction.

Ville said while there were no sufficient evidence to prove that any irregularity or electoral fraud occurred at the six precincts, which consist of 20 polling places, Floyd Sayon should have obeyed the instruction from Emma Togba, his immediate supervisor, when she asked him to quarantine a number of polling centers, and also stop all counting processes of the votes cast in those centers until allowed at a later date.

On the contrary, Sayon ignored his supervisor's instruction on grounds that it did not come from Cllr. Korkoya.

Meanwhile, after Cllr. Ville's ruling in favor of a re-run in the quarantined voting centers, both the lawyers of Telia Urey and Abu Kamara/ruling CDC took exceptions to the ruling on grounds that there were too many discrepancies.

Going forward, Telia Urey, the Representative candidate on the ticket of the All Liberian Party (ALP), agreed to cooperate with the NEC so as to see a smooth, free, fair, transparent and credible re-run.

Abu Bana Kamara/CDC lawyers, on the other hand, perfected their bill of exception into an appeal to the BoC on grounds that the election dispute hearing office had series of conflicting accounts, among which was the fact that Cllr. Ville said that there were no pieces of evidence to prove that the votes were tampered with as alarmed by the Telia Urey campaign team.

In his presentation of the BoC's ruling, Commissioner Boakai Dukuly said that, based on public policy, the Commission has decided to uphold the ruling of Cllr. Muana S. Ville.

"This decision on August 22, 2019, Jonathan K. Weedor, Samuel Z. Joe, Cllr. Janet A. Ebba Davidson, Davidetta Brown Lansana and Boakai Dukuly, hereby affixed their signatures to the ruling as a decision to impact the contested electoral processes in Montserrado District #15," Cllr. Boakai Dukuly said.

He added: "Chairman Korkoya, not being in agreement with this decision did not sign, as well as the Co-chair, Sarah J. Toe, who has traveled when the decision was reached."

Meanwhile, Cllr. Kokoya preferred to remain quiet on why he has distanced himself from his colleagues' decision.

A lawyer for Abu Kamara/CDC, Attorney Kunkunyon Wleh Teh said his exception to the NEC Board of Commissioners' decision to uphold the hearing office's ruling is nothing less than an "illegal seizure of the people of Ditrict #15 votes."

"This is a coup against democracy, because the decision is based on public policy that does not deserve any honor by any sound legal mind," Wleh said.

He said for the fact that both the NEC hearing office and the BoC did not cite actual frauds and irregularities at the polling centers other than the error made by a staff of the Commission, indicates that there is a good reason to proceed to the Supreme Court for better interpretation of the elections law.

"They breached their own procedures, but instead of taking responsibility for their blunders, they want our clients to accept a re-run that might be tampered with? We will not go for a re-run, unless it is being ordered by the high court," Wleh said.

Telia Urey's lawyer, Cllr. J. Lavela Supuwood, said he and his colleagues have done a great job, and that they are ready to appear before the Supreme Court's Bench to further defend their client.

"We are happy that NEC is gaining the credibility it needs," Cllr. Supuwood said, adding that he is yet to understand why CDC and Abu Kamara, who are not parties to the election dispute are crying wolf."

According to him, while it is not bad that the CDC and its candidate took part in the fact finding investigation conducted by the NEC hearing officer, it should have been the NEC contesting against a re-run since they are the main party accused of wrong doing in District #15.

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