Vice President Jewel Howard – Taylor has prevailed as the legitimate leader of the National Patriotic Party (NPP) in a ruling handed down Monday, 15 April by the National Elections Commission (NEC) to end the party’s leadership crisis.
In the ruling, the NEC hearing officer mandates the NPP to hold a convention in 40 days, with a further request for NPP political leader Vice President Taylor to officially submit the names of elected officials that will govern the affairs of the party.
The case bordering on NPP’s internal leadership crisis has been ongoing at the NEC for several months after a faction of the party loyal to Madam Taylor was complained by another faction loyal to expelChairman James Biney, alleging wrongful expulsion of the latter.
Mr. Biney was still battling his own expulsion from the NPP when a faction of the party that is loyal to him announced a rather retaliatory expulsion of NPP political leader Vice President Taylor last year.
Madam Taylor and Mr. Biney have been 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, now imprisoned former President Charles Ghankay Taylor.
NPP is a member of the three collaborating parties government of Liberia, inclusive of President George Manneh Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and ex-Speaker Alex Tyler’s Liberian People Democratic Party (LPDP).
These three parties made up the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) that won the second round of the presidential election in 2017 in an opposition collaboration.
But the NEC, having heard the case that grew out of a rift within the NPP finally says it recognizes the leadership of Vice President Taylor.
The NEC was among other things, looking into claims by the Biney faction that the expelled party chair did not get due process and that he was allegedly wrongfully expelled.
The Biney faction requested the Commission to halt the party’s activities, pending the outcome of the hearing of its complaint.
Mr. Biney was absent when the NEC gave its final ruling in the case on Monday. And his lawyer declined comment following the ruling.
Minutes following the Commission’s decision, NPP Chairman John Gray, his legal counsel Abel Massalley and other officials of the party sang songs of victory over the Biney faction of the NPP.
In a related development, the NEC has also handed down final ruling into a case filed against former ruling Unity Party (UP) by a group of displeased UP party officials against party Chairman Wilmot Paye.
The Commission’s ruling in the UP case also recognizes the Paye group as the legitimate leaders of the Unity Party to administer the affairs of the party and ensure harmony among the membership.By Emmanuel Mondaye–Edited by Winston W. Parley