At long last the former ruling Unity Party’s faction led by ex-Vice President Joseph NyumahBoakai and Chairman Wilmot Paye has withdrawn its appeal before the Supreme Court of Liberia and accepted ruling by the National Elections Commission against the expulsion of former standard bearer Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and three other members of the UP.
The decision followed a reconciliatory meeting held over the weekend between Madam Sirleaf and Ambassador Boakai at her residence in Monrovia, their first engagement after the 2017 Presidential and Representative elections in which the latter accused the former standard bearer of supporting the candidacy of now President George Manneh Weah.
In a letter dated Tuesday, 12 November 2019 addressed to Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi and Attorney-At-Law KunkunyonWlehTeh both of the International Law Group in Monrovia, UP Acting National Secretary General Patrick Worzie writes, “We wish to inform you that parties to the above mentioned case have accepted the ruling of the Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission (NEC) in our favor, and are therefore, withdrawing the appeal to the Supreme Court.
In consideration of this, we accept their decision to withdraw the case from the Supreme Court; and hereby write to instruct that you act accordingly to allow the withdrawal to stand.”The withdrawal effectively puts to rest the protracted internal wrangling that nearly disintegrated the former ruling party and greatly affected its performance at the polls, losing to key rival, CDC in 2017.
On January 13, 2018, the UP, under the watch of now political leader, Joseph NyumahBoakai and Chairman Wilmot Paye announced the expulsion of its former standard bearer, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; national secretary general, Patrick Worzie; Senator Conmany B. Wesseh, and Ambassador Medina Wesseh for allegedly violating the party’s constitution.
Sixteen (16) of the 31 National executive Committee members, who attended that meeting, voted to expel the four personalities named above without giving them an opportunity to defend themselves.But the affected officials on January 19, 2018 filed a petition before the National Elections Commission, challenging their reported expulsion, which they termed as illegal and in breach of the UP’s constitution.
However, the Boakai and Paye-led faction of the party at the time questioned the jurisdiction of the NEC, arguing that the Appellees did not exhaust the available procedure within the party to seek relief, and as such, the Commission lacks jurisdiction.The Appellants also argued that they were not the proper party to be named, leading to the NEC Hearing Officer to dismiss the complaint.
But on appeal, the NEC Board of Commissioner reversed and remanded the case, holding that there was no available forum within the Unity Party structure to review the National Executive Committee, and that the NEC had jurisdiction over inter-party disputes.
The hearing Officer then resumed jurisdiction and assigned the case to conduct a full-scale investigation, but the Appellants stayed away from the first hearing that had been scheduled for April 6, 2018. The case was reassigned for April 16, 2018, but the Appellants filed an excuse the same day, so on the third reassignment, they informed the investigation that they had sought review of the Board of Commissioners’ ruling before the Supreme Court. Hence, the Justice in Chambers declined to issue the Alternative Writ and refused jurisdiction.
In continuation of the investigations, two witnesses of the aggrieved party, Petitioners Patrick Worzie and Senator Conmany B. Wesseh testified, while one witness for the Appellants, Chairman Wilmot Paye testified for his faction.
The Hearing Officer ruled against Appellees/Petitioners thus, dismissing Petitioners’ petition for illegal expulsion and violation of Article 20 (a) & 79 (e) of the Constitution of Liberia.
But the aggrieved party filed a Bill of Exceptions on April 18, 2019, primarily contending that the Appellants violated their rights to be accorded Due Process and that Appellants lacked required quorum and or capacity to have carried out the expulsion.
Therefore, the NEC Board of Commissioners assumed jurisdiction over the case on appeal and entertained arguments pro et con. The Board of Commissioners reversed the Hearing Officer and held that the January 13, 2019 expulsion, having been made without the two-thirds vote required by the UP’s constitution, was null and void, as having no legal effect.
Hence, it is the said May 31, 2019 ruling by the Board of Commissioners that Appellants sought a review before the Supreme Court, which they have now withdrawn for as the party forge ahead in reconciliation.