MONROVIA-The Supreme Court of Liberia has upheld a petition filed by the Unity Party seeking legitimacy to participate in the upcoming Lofa Senatorial Race.
The legal action of UP, grew out of an earlier request by the CPP, through embattled Liberty Party (LP) Chairman Musa Bility, requesting the Election governing body to prevent UP from fielding candidates of their own in the Lofa by-election and by extension, the 2023 presidential and legislative elections, on the basis of their withdrawal from the CPP.
This was upheld by the NEC hearing officer and subsequently reaffirmed by its board of commissioners on April 25, 2022, denying the party constitutional right to participate in an electoral process, until the High Court can make a determination to that effect.
This judgment of the National Elections Commission (NEC) was objected to with the party taking an appeal to the Supreme Court which is the final arbiter of justice in Liberia.
In its judgment over the weekend, the Supreme Court ruled that section 8.5(2) of the CPP framework documents violates the Constitution which is the organic law of the country on this basis, Unity Party was given the full right to feed a candidate of their own in the pending Lofa County by-election.
The High Court holds that the CPP errs by including such clause within their legal document knowing it contravenes the Constitution, which surpassed all other law, statue, etc.
According to the Supreme Court, the constitution of Liberia is the supreme and fundamental law of the land and its provisions having binding force and effect on all authorities and persons throughout the Republic.
That means any laws, treaties, statutes, decrees, customs and regulations found to be inconsistent with it, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void and of no legal effect and must be so declared by the Supreme Court.
Section 8.5(2) of the CPP framework document which prevents constituent political parties of the CPP that had duly withdrawn from the said collaboration from fielding candidates in an election violates Article 17 and Article 79 of the Constitution of Liberia.
The purported section 8.5(2) of the CPP framework document, being manifestly against the Constitution, statutory laws, and public policy, the Supreme Court further declares same null and void.
“The appellants, ALP and UP having duly withdrawn from the CPP are free and at liberty to pursue any political interest in their names, including the fielding of candidates in the ensuring Lofa County Senatorial By-election, if they wish to do so,” the court added.
The High Court acknowledges and subscribes to Article 25 of the Constitution of Liberia which adheres to the principle of sanctity of contract; however, where a contract violates the Constitution or any statutory law, such contract, the Court says, has no sanctity to be upheld, protected, or enforced.
CPP is originally made up of four opposition political parties to include: UP, ANC, ALP and LP, the CPP later broke apart, leaving only ANC and a faction of LP as ally following bitter internal conflicts.
It may be recalled, the Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission on May 9, announced that it has rescheduled the planned Lofa County by-election scheduled for May 10, 2022, and would be held based on the outcome of legal proceedings filed by the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), Unity Party (UP) and the All Liberian Party (ALP).
NEC chairperson, Mrs. Davidetta Brown Lansanah also announced that NEC has received the budgeted amount of US$1.2 million for the conduct of the election in Lofa County.
At the moment, NEC is awaiting a mandate from the Legislature to schedule a new date for the conduct of the election and it is believed that lawmakers have made an early return because of the situation involving the NEC and the Lofa County by-election.
The decision to postpone the May 10, 2022 Special Senatorial Bi-Election in Lofa County came after NEC’s Hearing Officer claimed that he lacks jurisdiction to render any judgment in the matter to declare the participation of the UP candidate due to the constitutional questions and concerns raised.
The NEC staff ruled that due to the constitutional issues, in this case, the NEC is hereby prohibited from proceeding with any action regarding the endorsement of the Unity Party’s candidate for the Lofa County Senatorial by-election until the Supreme Court considers the constitutional questions involved.