Liberia: Electoral Body To Hear Expulsion Complaint By Former President

Liberia’s elections body, the National Elections Commission (NEC) is expected to hear a complaint filed by the Standard Bearer Emeritus of the former ruling Unity Party (UP) former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf challenging her expulsion from the party for supporting another party’s candidate.

UPDuring the 2017 Presidential and General Elections it was heavily rumored that
the then President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of the Unity Party (UP) was supporting
Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) of President George Manneh Weah.

Former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf support of  the CDC was a clear
indication that she was against Presidential bid of her  former Vice President Joseph N.
Boakai who lost the 2017 elections after several weeks of court proceedings.

The Standard Bearer Emeritus Johnson-Sirleaf’s support for the presidential bid of
President George M. Weah was concluded on December 26, 2017 following  which the CDC became victorious. Later, the former ruling party, Unity Party (UP) decided in an executive meeting to expel its Standard Bearer Emeritus Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

NEC Liberia
NEC Liberia

As the result of her expulsion, legal counsels representing the former President of
Liberia and former Standard Bearer Emeritus of the Unity Party (UP) Johnson-
Sirleaf  filed a complaint which is now before the Board of Commissioners
alleging that her former Vice President and Standard Bearer of the party Joseph N.
Boakai orchestrated her expulsion from the party.

According to her legal counsels, the former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf terms the
expulsion as a violation of the party’s Constitution and the 1986 Constitution of the
Republic of Liberia.

In the 1986 constitution, Article 20(a) and (b) state that, (A)“No person shall be deprived
of life, liberty, security of the person, property, privilege or any other right except as the
outcome of a hearing judgment consistent with the provisions laid down in this
Constitution and in accordance with due process of law.

Counsels further quoted the country’s Constitution as saying that “…justice shall be done
without sale, denial or delay; and in all cases not arising in Courts not of record, under
court-martial and upon impeachment, the parties shall have the right to trial by jury
and; (b) the right of an appeal from a judgment, decree, decision or ruling of any court
or administrative board or agency, except the Supreme Court, shall be held inviolable.

The legislature shall prescribe rules and procedures for the easy, expeditious and
inexpensive filing and hearing of an appeal”.

No date has been set by the NEC for the hearing and argument into the complaint filed.

The Standard Bearer Emeritus along with other members of party executive were
expelled; those expelled included Senator Commany B. Wesseh of River Gee County
and member of the party’s Executive Committee, Medina A, Wesseh, ex-executive
member and chairperson on Publicity Committee and Patrick Worzie, Acting Secretary
General.

The complaint is expected to be heard on Tuesday, February 20, at 2 p.m. in the
Dispute Hearing Room of the Liberia’s Elections Commission.

VP Joseph Boakai

Former Vice President Joseph N. Boakai

The Unity Party executives and the former President were expelled early January
18, 2018 on grounds that they were supporting the candidacy of George M. Weah which
allegedly violated the party’s constitution during the just ended Presidential and
Representative Elections.

The Legal counsels of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf are members of the
International Law Group (LLG) alleged among other things that the standard bearer
emeritus expulsion along with other executive members of the party secretly held a
meeting at the residence of former Vice President Boakai with 31 executive members in
attendance, but only 17 voted to which they believe is prejudicial and illegal.

The party’s constitution however, provides that the National Executive Committee shall
require at least 42 votes in favor to acquire the two-thirds majority of the 65 members at
the time of the decision; inappropriately only a majority of 32 were at the former Vice
President’s house when their decision taken against the former executives and the
former President Sirleaf was made.

By Lincoln Barcon in Monrovia

West African Journal Correspondent

Liberia: Incoming National Legislature Selects New Leadership

Monrovia, 16 January, 2018 – In the West African nation of Liberia, less than a week to the inauguration of President-Elect George Weah to succeed outgoing president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, lawmakers on Monday convened the first session of the 54th Legislature where a new corp of leadership was selected.

Speaker Bhofal Chambers
Speaker Bhofal Chambers

Maryland County Rep. Bhofal Chambers emerged as Speaker unopposed while Bong County Rep. Prince K. Moye was elected deputy speaker over Grand Bassa County Rep. Hans Barchue, who previously held that position.

But the election of Sinoe County Senator Albert T. Chie as president pro-tempore astonished political analysts who voiced criticisms that both legislative and executive powers have now gone to the southeast of the small West African nation, since President-elect Weah also hails from Sinoe in the southeast.

But the new President Pro-Tempore Senator Chie of  Sinoe differs, arguing that Weah had been Senator of Montserrado County; an unamusing reality since Weah ran and won and has been Senator for Montserrado County since 2014.

Yet Weah has, at no point, ever denied the truism of his roots in Sinoe County in southeastern Liberia, Senator Chie argued.

Meanwhile, outgoing Vice President Joseph Boakai and former House Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay on Monday turned over their offices to their respective successors.

Vice President-elect Jewel Howard praised Dr. Boakai for his fine leadership as leader of the Liberian Senate during the past twelve years, and suggested retention of some of Boakai’s key staff for her start-off, saying “ we will be new to this office”.

Outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

In another political development, barely one week before President Sirleaf hand over power to her successor Weah, executives of the outgoing ruling Unity Party (UP) have expelled the Standard Bearer Emeritus President Johnson-Sirleaf and others including Commany Wesseh and Medina S. Wesseh for what has been described as party “disloyalty and gross violation of its constitution”.

Executives of the ruling Unity Party (UP), in a statement issued over the weekend in Monrovia, accused the expelled members of “campaigning for the CDC.”

But President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf rebuked the action as “illegal”, saying there was not even a due process prior to taking of the action.

Political Subdivision Map of Liberia
Political Subdivision Map of Liberia

Liberians are divided over this strange development as they countdown to a historical democratic transition never seen for more than seven decades since William VS Tubman was inaugurated on 3rd January 1944. President elect George Weah will be inaugurated on January 22nd to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

By Tepitapia Sannah in Monrovia

 

Liberia: Local Daily Warns Candidate Weah About His Recent “Endorsements”

A local daily in Liberia is warning the leader of the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Senator George Weah about  the intentions and the plethora of sudden endorsements from some political leaders and organizations in the run-up to the second round of the Presidential Election scheduled for Tuesday, December 26.

Senator George-Weah
Liberia Presidential Candidate Senator George M. Weah

In an editorial entitled  Weah, Be Careful of Endorsements published on Tuesday, the Daily Observer newspaper cited as “puzzling”, Weah’s recent endorsement by Senator Prince Y. Johnson of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) political party and three executives of the Liberty Party (LP) which included Ben Sanvee, Party Chairman, Harrison Kanwea, the running mate of its Presidential candidate Counselor Charles W. Brumskine and the former Campaign Manager of the LP Mr. Musa Bility .

LP Leader Charles Walker Brumkine
LP Leader Charles Walker Brumkine

The LP executives, prior to their endorsement, did not consult or obtain the consent of their party leader Counselor Brumskine. In a rather bizarre endorsement stunt on last Thursday in Monrovia, the three UP executives announced their endorsement of Senator Weah and displayed t-shirts with the photos of their Standard Bearer and Vice Standard Bearer and the super-imposed image of Senator Weah to insinuate that the Liberty Party hierarchy had fully endorsed its rival Senator Weah of the CDC.

The Liberian newspaper, in questioning the growing list of endorsements for Senator Weah noted, ” What does this reaction entail in the stream of endorsements the CDC political leader continues to receive from people in the pending runoff election?” In warning the CDC leader, the paper cited what it called the “deceit” perpetrated by the LP executives in presenting their party leader as endorsing Senator Weah and the CDC.

Counselor Brumskine who was out of the country when the endorsements were announced but has now returned home has termed the “endorsements” of his party officials as an attempt to embarrass him.

“The first deceit Weah and the CDC should note is that these men have presented Brumskine as being in support of Weah, contrary to what Brumskine has said. The LP standard bearer did not even know of Weah’s endorsement by three of his (Brumskine) closest allies. Another thing Weah needs to be warned of is that while these men have their constitutional right to choose whomever they may, they have visibly demonstrated some level of insincerity and unfairness by plotting against their political leader by taking such a major   decision without his knowledge, and doing it so hurriedly that they could not even wait until he returned to the country. The average observer would consider this nothing short of a stab in the back,” the Daily Observer maintained in its editorial.

Senator Prince Y. Johnson
Senator Prince Y. Johnson

Senator Prince Y. Johnson
According to its editorial, the Daily Observer noted that, “The euphoria became exceedingly high when Nimba County Senator Prince Y. Johnson, standard bearer of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR), endorsed Weah following the October poll”.

Harrison Kanwea
Harrison Kanwea

Harrison Karnwea
On the record of the LP Vice Presidential candidate Mr Kanwea who endorsed Senator Weah, the paper wrote “… So, what hope can you, Mr. Weah, have for votes in a man whose county refused to support him in a national election in which he was a vice presidential candidate? Moreover, Mr. Kanwea and his group are clearly demonstrating the plot that occurred between the Roman emperor Julius Caesar and Brutus. Are you, Mr. Weah, taking note of the kind of people from the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration joining your party?”

LP Chairman Ben Sanvee
LP Chairman Ben Sanvee

Ben Sanvee
The Daily Observer reminded its readers about the prior statement of the LP Chairman Ben Sanvee against Senator Weah. “…During the 2014 special senatorial election, Ben Sanvee was your main contender who is still on record for boldly stating that “Weah makes mistakes in every statement and sentence he makes. Today, Sanvee has, without consulting his political leader, endorsed you with this statement, “Weah has been blessed to conquer the world using his legs.” Yes, he trusted his feet, as the emphasis indicates, but does Sanvee think Weah also trusts his head to deliver? What made Sanvee change his mind?” the paper questioned.
In concluding its editorial position on the endorsements, the Daily Observer warned that “…Now Weah’s popularity among the grass rooters has grown to the peak, and the officials who worked in government are flooding into the CDC.
Yes, we cannot be unmindful of the well-known fact that “Politics makes strange bedfellows.” But consider this  other age-old dictum: “A hint to the wise is quite sufficient.”

It can be recalled that the LP led by Counselor Charles W. Brumskine, following the first round of voting on October 10th and coming third in the polls, alleged that the process was tainted by “fraud and irregularities” and filed legal suit to challenge the result and the conduct of the run-off elections.

NEC Chair Jerome Korkoya
NEC Chair Jerome Korkoya

The country’s electoral body, on instructions from the Supreme Court, investigated the LP’s claims of fraud and subsequently dismissed them. The LP then filed another appeal to the country’s highest court but was over ruled with instructions to the National Elections Commission (NEC) to clean up the voters’ roll before the conduct of the run-off vote.

Civil society groups and individuals have requested proof from the NEC that it has complied with the Supreme Court’s instructions to clean up the voters’ roll. In a press statement issued on last Friday, the NEC announced that it is undertaking several measures to comply with the Supreme Court’s mandate and include:

1. Removal of Multiple Voter IDs

…There are 998 voters affected by the multiplicity of Voter IDs- sharing 488 Voters IDs. The proposed solution is to retain existing Voter IDs for 488 Voters (the first voter that registered with an ID retains the Voter ID) and issue new IDs for the remaining 510 voters.
An Inclusion Form (a variant of the OMR Form) is filled for each of the 510 voters, and scanned. The new records generated will be used to replace the existing record on the FRR. This therefor means that the roll that will be printed and displayed at the polling places and also used for the runoff will bear the new Voter IDs for the 510 voters.
A new voter card will be created for each of these 510 voters and would be exchanged for the old Voter Cards at the Polling Places on or before the Election Day.
The new FRR will have an indicator for this set of voters, to ease the identification on Election Day.
On completion of this assignment, a list of affected voters, with their old voter IDs and newly generated voter IDs would be created and shared with the Political Parties.

1. Further de-duplication of the FRR
NEC carried out an initial de-duplication before the FRR was published in September 2017, where 4,567 multiple registrations were removed from the voter roll.
However, with the decision of the Supreme Court to conduct a full clean-up of the FRR, it was agreed that the FRR should be further checked for multiple registrations. Due to non-biometric nature of the voter roll, de-duplication process is quite time consuming as it involves a lot of manual checks and re-checks to confirm multiple registrations before they are removed from the roll.
It has been agreed that due to time limitations, this process would start immediately. This will enable the timely update of the voter roll for printing, in preparation for the publication.
At the end of this assignment, a list of the suspected multiples, the records removed and those retained will be generated and shared with the Political Parties.

2. Publications of the Final Registration Roll
The printing of the voter roll in hard copies will be display at each Precinct and Polling Places Nationwide before the runoff election; is being worked on between NEC and the ECOWAS Technical Team.

3. Availability of FRR in Hard-Copies to Election Magistrates and Polling Places
NEC and ECOWAS are also working on this in accordance with the two procedures above.

4. Limiting the Eligibility to Vote to only those on the FRR
This shall be adhered to. Only voters whose names are on the FRR would be allowed to vote. The necessary documentation will be adjusted accordingly.

5. Limitations of the addendum to FRR to those listed in NEC’s Polling and Counting Manual
This shall be adhered to. Only those on special assignments at the Polling Places around the Country, such as members of the election security sector, NEC officials, international observer drivers and escorts would be allowed to vote in the Polling Places other than where they are registered, using the addendum to FRR. The necessary documentation will be adjusted accordingly.

6. Limiting the eligibility to vote for poll watchers to their being on the FRR and at their Precinct and Polling Places.
This shall be adhered to. Poll watchers will only be allowed to vote at their Precincts and Polling Places. The necessary documentation will be adjusted accordingly.
The joint Technical Team, comprising the ECOWAS and NEC, shall implement the above-mentioned directives of the Supreme Court of Liberia, the NEC announced.

ANC Leader Alexander B. Cummings Jr
ANC Leader Alexander B. Cummings Jr.

The fifth place holder in the first round of voting, the Alternative National Congress (ANC) says it will not support any of the two candidates in the run-off elections. The ANC’s position has been strongly criticized by a former warlord turned Senator Prince Y. Johnson whose Movement for Democracy and Recontruction (MDR) came fourth in the October 10th polling.

The run-off election will pit incumbent Vice President Joseph N. Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP) against Senator George M. Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) on next Tuesday and the winner will replace two term incumbent Ms. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

 

 

 

Liberians Still Weary Over Unsettled Elections; Want Run-off Held

The weariness of Liberians over the fate of their electoral process now dogged by legal hurdles after four parties sued against results of the first round on 7 October 2017 charging “massive fraud and irregularities” could soon be settled at the apex court in the country.

Liberia Elections
Liberians Display Voting Cards

The opposition Liberty Party sued demanding a rerun of the presidential and legislative elections meant to produce a president expected to succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who was democratically elected, a historic moment since 3 January 1944 when Edwin J. Barclay turned over to William VS Tubman.

Following weeks of legal arguments, the hearing officer at the National Elections Commission adjudged that evidence adduced by lawyers of the Liberty party, the ruling Unity Party as well as opposition Alternative National Congress and All Liberian People’s Party was not sufficient to necessitate a rerun of the poll.

But the aggrieved parties appealed to NEC’s board of commissioners which swiftly upheld the decision. But the Supreme Court, which has seven days to dispose of the matter, has confirmed receiving an appeal from the aggrieved parties against the decision.

Political Parties Leadera in Liberia
Political Leaders in Liberia

Perhaps conscious of the race to beat the 16 January deadline for induration of a new president to avoid a constructional crisis, Liberians are hopeful the court will act expeditiously to pave way for the runoff poll between incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai and opposition leader George Weah who came 28.8 percent and 38 percent respectively in the first round of elections.

Meanwhile, public opinion is divided with youngsters who comprise majority of the population up in arms saying this is the time for Weah who resembles their kind to win while elder citizens on the other hand differ insisting Weah lacks sufficient experience and education to govern Liberia at this time demanding sophistication.

Notwithstanding the protracted court proceedings marked by bitter war of words involving supporters of candidates Weah and Boakai on radio talk shows there has been no reported violence.

By Our Correspondent TK Sannah in Monrovia

Liberia’s Supreme Court Temporarily Halts Run-Off Elections Preparations

Liberian Justices
Liberia Supreme Court Justices

Philadelphia, PA USA: A potential Constitutional crisis is looming in the small West African nation of Liberia with a ruling overnight by the high court halting preparations for the run-elections scheduled for November 7th.The opposition Liberty Party (LP) in a petition filed with the Supreme Court alleged “fraud and irregularities” in the first round of Presidential and General Elections held on October 10th.

Unless the LP can obtain a favorable disposition of their petition and a scheduled re-run of the elections in time to allow for the inauguration of a new Administration, incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will remain in office past her constitutional term which ends in January.

Liberty Party ticket
Liberty Party Charles Brumskine and Harrison Kanwea

The Supreme Court has requested the petitioners, the Liberty Party and counsels for the National Elections Commission (NEC) to appear on Thursday for a hearing. According to the Court, the temporary stay on the pending run-off does not invalidate the results of the October 10th Presidential contest.

The Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led by Senator George Weah came in with 38.4 percent of the votes compared to incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai of the ruling Unity Party at 28.8 percent. Both candidates are slated to contest the run-off elections.

Justices of the Supreme Court deliberated late into Tuesday on the LP’s petition and issued the ruling which in effect halts preparation for the run-off elections pending a full hearing into the merits of the petition.

The ruling Unity Party (UP) of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Alternative National Congress (ANC) say they back the position of the Liberty Party.

Three political parties including the All Liberian Party(ALP), the ruling Unity Party (UP) and the lead petitioner in the case Liberty Party (LP) , in a statement issued on Sunday in Monrovia, allege that fraud, interference and irregularities were widespread in the October 10th elections. The Alternative National Congress (ANC) says it supports the Liberty Party (LP) in its petition now pending before the Supreme Court.

President Johnson-Sirleaf’s own party has accused her of interfering with the elections process, surreptitiously meeting with the head of the electoral body and withholding a full throated endorsement of her Vice President Joseph Boakai who is one of many candidates seeking to replace her.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

President Johnson-Sirleaf has rejected the accusations of personal “interference.” Social media is abuzz with various reactions from Liberians; from conspiracy theories of plans to install an interim government to sentiments that the ruling party is maneuvering to remain in office indefinitely.

Reports from Monrovia say police are patrolling areas in the capital Monrovia and there is heavy security presence around the Temple of Justice, the seat of the high court and the offices of the National Elections Commission (NEC).

There is an unusual quietude around Monrovia.
The National Elections Commission says it will abide by the stay order on preparations for the run-off elections.

Reporting by Emmanuel Abalo