The standard bearer of the opposition Liberty Party or LP, Cllr. Charles Brumskine has accused commissioners at the National Elections Commission or NEC of embarking on a campaign to deny potential presidential tickets the opportunity to contest the October 10 polls just to protect the candidate of their choice.
“The Commissioners, like most other Liberians, are aware that the Brumskine/Karnwea ticket is a formidable ticket, so the Commissioners are doing what they believe they must do to have the candidate of their choice elected,” Brumskine told a news conference over the weekend after the commission served the party’s vice standard bearer his letter of rejection.
Though Brumskine did not name the particular candidate whose interest he claimed NEC officials are protecting, but it could be recalled that shortly after Brumskine and his running mate Harrision Karnwea had filed their nominations, an operative of the ruling Unity Party posted Karnwea’s rejection documents from NEC on social media before Karnwea and the Liberty Party were officially informed.
Said Brumskine: “Although the NEC’s decision to reject my running mate was disclosed to another person or persons on Thursday, July 6, 2017 (if not earlier), the “Notice of Rejection of Nomination Application,” from the NEC was signed by the Chairman of the NEC, Hon. Jerome G. Korkoya, and dated July 7, 2017, a day after the NEC had informed others of its decision.”
Though Karnwea’s nomination application was rejected in line with Article 5 Section 12.3 of the amended code of conducts, NEC lists thirteen other grounds for rejection.
These include “Candidate does not meet the constitutional age requirement,” “No proof of aspirant’s residency requirement,” No proof of aspirant’s citizenship requirement,” “Aspirant has not met the Domicile Requirement,” among others.
Brumskine argues that of the fourteen possible grounds on which the NEC has said that it could reject a nomination application, the Code of Conduct (Section 12.3 of the Amendment) expressly requires that the NEC investigates any alleged violation of the Code. Such an investigation may be based on a complaint filed by a third party or a determination made by the NEC on its own initiative.
He laments that in the absence of an investigation and a due process, the Commissioners of the NEC proceeded to reject the Nomination Application of his vice standard bearer, as required by law.
“When use in a statute or other laws, “investigate” means “To follow up step by step by patient inquiry or observation. To trace or track; to search into; to examine and inquire into with care and accuracy; to find out by careful inquisition; examination, the taking of evidence, a legal inquiry.” But the Commissioners were obviously so eager to reject the Vice Standard Bearer of Liberty Party, that the Commission, which consists of several lawyers, either failed to read the provision of the statute requiring it to investigate before rendering a decision to reject my running mate, or their action was deliberate,” the LP standard bearer added.
“Under our law, an investigation requires, whether the accuser is both the accuser and judge or not, that the accused is allowed his day in court—due process of law—be allowed to face his accuser(s), produce witnesses, and to be represented by counsel. One of the many reasons for allowing an accused his day in court is that there just might be an exculpatory reason justifying or at least explaining the action of the accused.
The Code of Conduct is unambiguous—public officials who desire to run for elected offices should resign at least two years prior to the date of such elections. The Commissioners did not hold an investigation because they are quite aware of the exculpatory reasons why the prohibition of the Code does not apply to Mr. Karnwea. Could Harrison Karnwea had desired to be my running mate two years ago? Unless Harrison is a clairvoyant, which I know he is not, he could not have known that I would have asked him to be my running mate two years ago; because even I did not know who my running mate would have been. Two years ago, the only thing I knew was that I was running to be President of our country, and that I would have to brace myself for another onslaught from the ruling Unity Party and agencies of the government, like the NEC.
Should Harrison be held to the statutory requirement of resigning two years ago? Of course not! There was no reason for Harrison to resign at the time, because two years ago he did not desire to run for any elective public position.
But, my fellow Liberians, the Commissioners had determined that they would not allow Harrison Karnwea to be heard; the minds of the Commissioners were made up—they had decided to reject Mr. Karnwea even before we filed our papers.” Brumskine concluded.