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Supreme Court denies UP request

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The Supreme Court here has denied ruling Unity Party (UP’s) bill of information filed before it against the National Elections Commission (NEC), requesting the high court to set a specific date on which the Commission could decide a matter before it and to also hold the Commission in contempt.

But the Supreme Court ruled on Friday, 17 November, that it took judicial notice that the NEC’s Board of Commissioners had made a ruling on UP’s appeal, thus rendering the bill of information moot.

The UP filed a bill of information before the Supreme Court last week, contending that the NEC’s Board of Appeal had not decided on an appeal it filed in ten days in an electoral matter that the Commission is investigating under a 30 – day period.

The UP was demanding some instruments that the party says are crucial to proceeding with an alleged elections fraud and irregularities case, but had been denied by the NEC Hearing Officer.

Out of seven instruments requested by the UP, the Hearing Officer had granted two and denied five, thus prompting an appeal before the NEC’s board of appeal that was not decided up to the time the party filed a bill of information with the Supreme Court. But the NEC’s board of appeal made a ruling the same day the Supreme Court was due to hear the bill of information on Thursday, 16 November.

Reading the Court’s ruling, Associate Justice Jamesetta Howard – Wolokolie indicated that the UP requested among other things that the Supreme Court sets a specific time in which the Commission makes a determination of the matter, and to hold the NEC in contempt.

But Justice Wolokolie notes that the Supreme Court is unable to grant any of the requests made by the UP, noting that the Constitution gives the NEC 30 days to investigate a matter.

She notes that for the Court to set a specific date for the Commission to hear a case would contravene the Constitution and exercise power not conferred upon the high court.

The UP is backing an alleged elections fraud and irregularities case filed before the NEC by defeated opposition Liberty Party (LP) presidential candidate Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine and his party in challenge to the outcome of the 10 October presidential and representatives’ elections.

The UP and opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) are due to contest a presidential runoff after topping 18 presidential candidates in the first round of the polls. But the runoff has been stalled by the case at the NEC, with demands from the complainants for a rerun of the entire polls over claims of gross irregularities.

Both UP and LP are said to have rested their cases at NEC, and the NEC is expected to begin production of evidence on Monday, 20 November before the Hearing Officer.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

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