The National Elections Commission (NEC’s) hearing officer has denied a motion filed by Vice President Jewel Howard -Taylor’s faction of the National Patriotic Party (NPP), requesting the Commission not to hear a pending case until a version filed by embattled party chairman James Biney at the Civil Law Court in Monrovia is withdrawn.
Denying the motion Thursday, 13 December, the Hearing Officer said the case before the Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice in no way undermines the workings of the NEC.The Hearing Officer subsequently ordered that legal arguments be heard in the case before the Commission.
The case comes following the expulsion of Vice President Taylor from the NPP as standard bearer by a faction of the party loyal to Mr. Biney, who has also been battling his own expulsion from the party too.
Vice President Taylor’s party, the NPP is one of the three collaborating parties that form the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), inclusive of President George Manneh Weah’s Congress for Democratic and former House Speaker Alex Tyler’s Liberian People Democratic Party (LPDP).
Madam Taylor and Mr. Biney are battling for control of the NPP, a party founded and taken to victory in the 1997 post-war elections by the Vice President’s estranged husband, imprisoned former President Charles Ghankay Taylor.
She has been NPP’s standard bearer but did not contest the presidency in the past two elections until Mr. Weah picked her as his running mate for the 2017 presidential elections which they won.
The legal team of Vice President Taylor’s faction of the NPP at the NEC is headed by former Grand Cape Mount County Senator Abraham Massaley.Former Senator Massaley requested the NEC not to proceed with the hearing except the case taken to the Civil Law Court by embattled NPP Chairman Biney is withdrawn from the court.
But the Hearing Officer insists that he cannot compel the Biney faction of the party to withdraw its complaint that is before the Civil Law Court because it does not affect the case at the NEC.
The NEC Hearing Officer says no court within Liberia can take away the authority of the Commission in election-related matters because it is the body that has authority to probe cases of this nature. The Taylor faction has produced four witnesses to testify in the case.
The first witness for the Taylor faction Mr. Poe Wesseh confirmed as legitimate all documents submitted to the hearing, concerning in-fighting at NPP, but the Biney faction is not called yet to begin producing its witnesses.The hearing continues today, Thursday, 14 December at about 2 PM at the NEC Headquarters in Sinkor, suburb of Monrovia.The Biney faction is being represented by its legal team headed by former Representative Stanley Kparliain.
By Emmanuel Mondaye–Edited by Winston W. Parley