Two lawyers representing the National Elections Commission (NEC) say the decision of the ruling Unity Party (UP) to intervene for a compulsory joinder of various political parties in the ongoing Liberty Party (LP) case of alleged elections fraud and irregularities is an attempt to tie the hands of the Commission to not carry out its mandate.
During a hearing at the NEC Headquarters on Thursday, 9 November, NEC lawyer Cllr. Alexander Zoe argues that the UP did not get written document from various political parties to intervene on their behalf.
“This motion by the Unity Party is intended to delay the smooth transition of power from one government to the other,” Cllr. Zoe charges. He wonders how the ruling party can intervene without the approval of heads of the parties concerned.
Also arguing for the NEC, Cllr. Musa F. Dean says there is no authorization from various political parties for whom the UP is claiming to intervene, adding that UP has no evidence of fraud and irregularities from the 10 October elections.
He urges that anyone who is dissatisfied must take an appeal to the Supreme Court, claiming that the UP wants to play the transition as a game. Cllr. Dean observes that people create problem for the game to end in noise when their opponents score against them.
He however cautions that this will not be the case because the laws here are strong and “we will challenge them in the court”, further vowing that in five days, the process will end to stand prepare for the conduct of the runoff. He therefore pleads with the hearing officer to kindly dismiss the UP motion.
Responding to NEC’s argument, lawyers representing the UP including former Justice Minister Cllr. Benedict Sannoh, argue that the UP is not filing an action on behalf of any political party.
Rather he explains that the party is exercising a right and a duty in court, noting that “We are not representing any of those political parties.” He argues that the law says any of the existing party can file a motion for compulsory joinder.
Cllr. Sannoh continues that if a complaint is being filed, the statutory period is seven days while the right to joinder had no statutory period.
He concludes that the case is of national interest, urging that if it requires additional weeks, “so be it”. But he insists that “we have to ensure that things that are hidden will be [brought] up to the public.”
Meanwhile, the NEC Hearing Officer could not rule after both lawyers had argued for 30 minutes each. The Hearing Officer reserves ruling for today, Friday, 10 November at 3pm.
The chairman emeritus of the ruling UP, Grand Cape Mount Senator Cllr. Varney Sherman and Liberia’s former Justice Minister Cllr. Benedict Sannoh filed a motion for compulsory joinder before the board of commissioners at the NEC to bring together all of the participating political parties in the 10 October elections.
By Lewis S. Teh–Edited by Winston W. Parley