Liberty Party, Unity Party Challenge NEC Ruling

MONROVIA, Montserrado – Liberty Party and Unity Party filed a bill of exception before the National Elections Commission’s board of commissioners on Wednesday, November 22, challenging a recent ruling by the chief dispute hearing officer.

Muana Ville, the chief dispute hearing officer at the National Elections Commission, had denied Liberty Party’s request for a re-run of the first round of the presidential election on Monday because of insufficient evidence of fraud.

Liberty Party and Unity Party, an intervening party to the complaint filed, said NEC had violated the constitution and elections law, in addition to committing fraudulent acts and gross irregularities.

After NEC denied the request, Benedict Sannoh, one of several lawyers representing the Unity Party, said the two parties filed their bill of exceptions, as required by law.

“The two parties also filed for Jerome Korkoya, chairman of NEC, to recuse himself from the appeal hearing,” Sannoh added.

Upon filing their bill of exceptions, Sannoh said the two parties also received a notice ordering them to appear for hearing into their appeal on November 23 at 11:00 a.m.

Sannoh emphasized a major point that Unity Party and Liberty Party had been making: that NEC cannot be the same entity to adjudicate a case in which it is being accused of fraud.

“NEC would not rule against itself,” he said.

Though Sannoh said he cannot prejudge the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision if the matter is taken there, he said he expects the court to analyze the facts and law based on what the two parties will present and argue.

Povo Hilton, one of several lawyers representing Liberty Party, said the two parties will argue for Korkoya to recuse himself from the hearing because the NEC chairman had made biased statements against the complainants.

Povo Hilton, a lawyer representing Liberty Party. Photo: Zeze Ballah

He said Korkoya’s previous statement that the two parties lacked proper evidence compromised his neutrality to preside over any hearing into the matter.

“If Korkoya refuses to recuse himself, there are remedies and we could either chose to proceed to the Supreme Court,” he said.

Hilton called for a cleaning up of the final voter registration roll before the runoff elections.

“NEC needs to redo the [final voter registration roll],” he said. “If such is to be done, the process must first start from the status quo.”

The Liberty Party lawyer downplayed any concerns that its pursuit of the legal process is intended to bring about an interim government.

“The Liberty Party does not subscribe to any interim government,” Hilton maintained.

He blamed the misperception to a poorly educated public.

Featured photo by Zeze Evans Ballah 

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016 and 2017, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. Zeze was also the union's 2017 Health Reporter of the Year. He is a Health Journalism Fellow with Internews.

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