By Lincoln G. Peters
Liberty Party (LP) political leader Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence and LP embattled Chairman Musa Hassan Bility’s factions have both withdrawn, corrected and filed with the National Elections Commission (NEC), two separate documents for the party’s controversial 2021 convention following a recent mandate by Justice – in – Chambers, Associate Justice Jamesetta Howard – Wolokollie.
Over the weekend, Justice Howard – Wolokollie ordered Mr. Bility to withdraw within 72hrs, the Liberty Party’s 2021 constitution and make sure that all altered provisions within the constitution be corrected.
Bility on Monday, 2 May 2022 withdrew the document, made corrections and resubmitted it to the NEC while Karnga-Lawrence’s faction of the LP also on Tuesday, 3 May 2022, filed its version of the document with the NEC.
An internal political crisis between Mr. Bility and the political leader of the Liberty Party, Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, split the opposition party into two factions.
Both Bility and Karnga – Lawrence have announced the expulsion of one another from the party.
Bility’s LP faction recently requested applications from interested individuals for the position of LP political leader, while Karnga – Lawrence’s faction of the LP also has its own chairman, Lofa County Senator Steve Zargo.
Notwithstanding, Nyonblee’s LP faction recently petitioned the Supreme Court of Liberia for a writ of prohibition on Bility’s planned LP convention.
As a result of the petition, the Supreme Court placed a stay order on Chairman Bility’s pending convention which was due to be held last month and cited the parties for a chamber conference with the justice in chamber, Justice Howard – Wolokollie on 29 April.
Following the conference, the Chamber Justice mandated that the party’s constitution be withdrawn in keeping with the Farmington MOU and all corrections be made and resubmitted to the NEC.
Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, 3 May, LP political leader Senator Karnga – Lawrence said they communicated with the National Elections Commission to again formally withdraw the altered constitution submitted by Mr. Bility and Mr. Martin Kollah, but it did not materialize.
She explained that on 1 May 2022, they communicated with all the signatories to the Farmington memorandum of understanding (MOU), including Mr. Bility, for a meeting at 9 am Tuesday to ensure that the proper corrections in keeping with the MOU are made and signed for re-submission to the NEC.
While the meeting was about to start, Senator Karnga – Lawrence said they received a text message from Chairman Bility, informing them that he and his team had worked with the NEC on 2 May 2022 to correct and resubmit the constitution in the absence of the political leader.
Madam Karnga -Lawrence indicated that for Mr. Bility to have submitted the document to the NEC without their knowledge, shows that he is violating the Supreme Court’s order, disrespecting the Liberty Party’s constitution and the National Elections regulation and guidelines.
“We informed Mr. Bility that in keeping with the Liberian Civil Procedure Law, Section 1.7, the 72 hours does not include Sunday and therefore expires … May 3, 2022,” she said.
Madam Karnga-Lawrence further explained that Bility was also informed that NEC has no jurisdiction over their corrections process, and doing it together as a party was in keeping with the mandate of the court.
She said up to the end of the 72 hours, there was no response from Mr. Bility.
“However, we are pleased to announce that we have concluded the process in keeping with the mandate of the court, and have resubmitted the corrected version of the constitution in keeping with the Farmington MOU and the NEC regulation 3.4 (d),” Senator Karnga-Lawrence noted.
Madam Karnga – Lawrence argued that Mr. Bility was not the Chairman of the convention and he should not have signed and submitted the constitution to the NEC.
She maintained that Bility still has no such authority to sign and resubmit the instrument after the alterations are changed to the actual versions.
She disclosed that a copy of the resubmitted version signed by the Convention Chairperson and the Convention Secretary General in keeping with the NEC regulation has also been sent to the office of the Justice-in-Chambers.
However, Senator Karnga-Lawrence used the occasion to call out the National Elections Commission for the unfortunate role it played and continues to play in fueling intra-party conflict, stating that the problem they have in LP today may not have reached this far had NEC acted properly within the scope of its rules and regulations.
“Today, it remains a searching question why NEC, having received the Farmington Report in which the parties committed to correcting the constitution, insisted on recognizing the instrument as an authentic document, and why the NEC is still getting involved with guiding our corrections process?” Senator Karnga-Lawrence wondered.
“2023 is such a defining moment for the peace of Liberia. We will not leave it to chance. Hence, in the coming days and weeks, we will engage stakeholders from a broad spectrum of the society in the view of forming a consolidated position on the NEC, as is currently constituted,” she said.https://thenewdawnliberia.com/supreme-court-gives-bility-72-hours/