The Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission (NEC) has written the Political Leader of the divided Liberty Party, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, defending Co-Chair Cllr. T. Teplah Reeves' December 13, 2021 communication to the LP Leader, and clarifying several concerns raised by her.
In their January 10, 2022 letter to the Senator, the five commissioners of the National Elections Commission argued that Co-Chair Cllr. Reeves acted within her authority to inform the LP about its 2021 notarized constitution filed with the Commission on 26 February 2021, and to restate information contained in NEC's August 23, 2021 communication to Sen. Karnga-Lawrence how the constitution could be challenged or amended in line with due process.
"We note that no objection was registered with the NEC concerning the said August 23, 2021 communication. We further note that the Commission's December 13, 2021, letter did not touch on whatever matter of the LP that may be pending before the NEC Political Affairs section. The letter also did not say that the LP's notarized 2021 constitution cannot be challenged or amended; rather the letter repeated the information provided in our August 23, 2021 communication to you concerning how said constitution may be successfully challenged or amended by the LP", the Board of Commissioners explains.
The Letter signed by Commissioners Boakia T.A. Dukuly, Ernestine Morgan-A War, Floyd Oxley Sayor, Barsee Leon Kpangbai, and Josephine Koe-Gaye, quotes
the second paragraph of the August 23, 2021 communication from the Political Affairs Section of NEC reads: "In keeping with the practice and procedure here at the NEC, when a party, especially through its Chairperson and/or Secretary-General submits a notarized document such as constitution to the Commission, the general presumption is that said document is proper and remains as such until successfully challenged in keeping with due process or amended by the Party."
The Board says during the December 13, 2021 letter to the LP Leader, the NEC Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah had traveled out of the country and Co-Chair Reeves was acting in her stead.
Sen. Karnga-Lawrence had argued that the NEC's December 13, 2021 letter violates "due process and the established rules and procedures of the National Elections Commission to hear and determine complaints/objections."
She noted that the letter should not have been signed by the NEC Co-Chair alone and therefore, asked that it be recalled or revoked.
However, the Board counters that in reference to concerns raised by the Political Leader, it invited her and Chairman Musa H. Bility (as a party of interest), to a meeting on January 7, 2022, but based on objections from Karnga-Lawrence's lawyers, the meeting was not held.
"As to your due process concern, the question for us is whether or not your November 15, 2021 letter to the Commission was a complaint or an appeal for a hearing. We do not view your November 15, 2021 letter as a complaint or an objection; therefore, no hearing was required", the Board responds to Senator Karnga-Lawrence.
The NEC had earlier written the Political Leader of the embattled Liberty Party Sen. Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, reiterating its earlier statement that the LP's 2021 notarized constitution submitted to the Commission is deemed proper and remains as such until successfully challenged in keeping with due process or via an amendment by the Party.
In a letter to Madam Karnga-Lawrence dated December 13, 2021, with a copy to Chairman Musa Bility, Co-Chair Cllr. P. Teplah Reeves said the Commission notes that since the referenced statement to the LP, the NEC has not received any final, non-appealable decision regarding the validity of the LP's 2021 constitution; neither has it been served with an amendment done by the Party.
"Hence, the Commission herein informs you that the Liberty Party's 2021 notarized constitution remains proper with the Commission until successfully challenged or amended as stated in our 23 August 2021 communication to you", the communication said.
It recalls that after the LP's January 22-24, 2021 convention held in Gbarnga, Bong County, the Party on February 26, 2021 through its Chairman and Secretary General, did submit its notarized 2021 constitution to the Commission, replacing the constitution of 2015.
However, several months after, Madam Karnga-Lawrence wrote the NEC on August 4, 2021, requesting a withdrawal of the Party's 2021 Constitution. Five days later, Chairman Musa H. Bility wrote the National Elections Commission, responding to the claims raised in the Political Leader's August 4, 2021 letter.
Both communications, the NEC says, were referred to the Political Affairs Section of the Commission after which the two leaders were invited to a conference on 6th August 2021.
The NEC's latter continues that at the end of the conference, it informed all parties that pursuant to Section 3.3 of the Guidelines and Regulations relating to the Registration of Political Parties and Independent Candidates, claims and counterclaims raised by the parties in their respective communications, must first be heard using the LP's internal procedures, which they accepted without objections.
The LP Political Leader Karnga-Lawrence had accused Chairman Bility of tempering with the 2021 notarized Constitution of the Party thus, requesting for its withdrawal in order to return to the 2015 Constitution of the LP.
However, the NEC insists that "in keeping with the practice and procedures here at the NEC, when a party, especially through its Chairperson and/or Secretary-General, submits a notarized document such as a constitution to the Commission, the general presumption is that the said document is proper and remains as such until successfully challenged in keeping with due process or amended by the Party.