The National Elections Commission (NEC) has with immediate effect reinstated the standard bearer emeritus of the former ruling Unity Party, ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Senator Conmany Wesseh, Ambassador Medina Wesseh, and UP former secretary general Patrick Worzi.
The UP executive committee expelled MsSirleaf and the others in January this year, after accusing them of withdrawing their support from the party during the 2017 Representatives and Presidential elections.The NEC through its Dispute Hearing Officer had earlier ruled the expulsion of the stalwarts by the executive committee was in place and withheld.
But the Board of Commissioners last Friday, May 31, at the NEC headquarters on 9th Street presided over by Chairman Jerome George Korkoya overturned the ruling of the Dispute Hearing Officer, restoring the membership of the affected officials.
“The chief dispute officer’s ruling in this matter is hereby reversed; the January 13, 2018, expulsion decision in this matter, having been made without the two/thirds vote required by the Unity Party’s constitution, is hereby declared null and void as having no legal effect upon them,” the Board of Commissioners orders.
The Board adds that the law provides that the burden of proof rests with the party that complains or otherwise alleges a fact, except that when the subject matter of a negative argument lies peculiarly within the knowledge of the other part, it is taken as true unless disproved.
The record shows that both witnesses for complainants gave testimonies in support of the allegation of lack of quorum, and that complainants introduced the UP’s constitution into evidence to show that it requires at least a two-thirds votes of the entire membership of the national executive committee before a member may be expelled.
The defendants, including UP chairman Wilmot Paye represented by the Sherman- Sherman Law Firm argues that some Unity Party members in the House of Representatives had lost reelections in 2017, so they could not be counted as part of the executive committee, suggesting that during the meeting of expulsion, the UP did not have accurate number to constitute a quorum.
The NEC said the Unity Party acted without the jurisdictional two-third votes required thus, declaring its January 13, 2018 expulsion as a nullity.
The Board cited Article 20(a) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, which states: “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…”
And Article 79(e) of the Constitution requires that the constitution and rules of a political party shall conform to the Liberian constitution.
In response to the allegation, Unity Party witness, Chairman Wilmot Paye says “The expulsion of January 13, 2018 was the decision of the national executive committee, which deemed it necessary to expel four members of the party for cause because the party’s constitution is such that every party member is obligated to support the party candidacy in election…..so within the wisdom of the national executive committee, [the] four individuals were deemed to have been in violation.”By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor