-Senatorial Candidates Reportedly Campaigning Despite Supreme Court’s Stay Order

By R. Joyclyn

This paper has gathered that some candidates in the impending December 8, 2020 Special Senatorial Elections are reportedly engaged into campaign activities in their respective localities despite the Supreme Court’s stay order.

According to citizens spoken to, they alleged that despite the stay order from the Supreme Court of Liberia on the much publicized December 8 Special Senatorial Elections, some candidates are reportedly not adhering to the stay order, instead they are campaigning.

The acts by those individuals, contravene Article 10 section 10.19 of the New Elections Law.

The law states “The filing of a protest of an Election Contest takes from the province of the contestant or the political party protesting; the matter involved and places it under the jurisdiction of the Commission or the Supreme Court in case an appeal is taken. It is therefore contemptuous and an election offense for the contestant or any political party or any person or group of persons to comment in any manner or form, on the merits of the proceedings tending to arouse public opinions; sympathy and confusion in the Liberian Society, and which in so doing may have the tendency to prejudice the fair and impartial determination of the other person commenting on the conduct of an election in any manner or form for which a contempt proceeding for a fine or imprisonment of such contestant or the leaders of such political party violating the provisions of this section for not more than five (5) years or both may be instituted.”

It further violates resolution signed by political parties’ to guide their [parties and candidates] throughout the electoral process and same was ratified in August of this year for the purpose of the pending elections.

Recently, the chairperson of the election house, Madam Davidetta Brown Lansanah announced that all activities including the publication of qualified candidates, political campaign activities were declared halted until otherwise from the Supreme Court.

The NEC was mandated to disengage from publishing the final list of qualified candidates for the December 8, 2020 elections as a result of a writ of mandamus filed with the high court by Margibi County Senatorial Aspirant, Mulbah Jackollie to clean the Final Registration Roll (FRR) and that he meets all requirements, but his name didn’t appear on the final qualified candidates listing from the NEC.

According to citizens who spoke on anonymity, they specifically accused Senator Abraham Darius Dillon of Montserrado, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence of Grand Bassa, Representative Thomas Fallah of Montserrado and former Pro-Temp Gbehzohngar Findley of Grand Bassa Counties respectively.

NEC Recent Statemen On Campaigning:

Recently the NEC said its attention was drawn to reports of political campaigning activities in certain parts of the country despite the stay order the Supreme Court.

“The NEC reminds all political coalitions, alliances, political parties and aspirants that the Honorable Supreme Court has issued an order, prohibiting the publication of the list of candidates for the 2020 Special Senatorial Elections pending the outcome of a petition for mandamus before the court. The final list of candidates must be published before the commencement of campaigning and, in compliance with the court’s stay order; the NEC has not declared campaign opened.  In this regard, the NEC calls on all parties and aspirants to wait until the stay order is lifted before campaigning,” the statement said.

The Commission said it will not hesitate to use the regulations to sanction anyone found engaging in pre-campaigning activities.  This statement by the Elections Commission comes in the wake of a current still order imposed on the Commission by the Honorable Supreme Court of the Liberia, halting all elections activities in the country.

Senator Abraham Darius Dillon:

When contacted, the office of Senator Abraham Darius Dillon denied all allegations levied against Senator Dillon.

The Political Officer in the office of Senator Dillon, Abel Plackie said the law provides the space for engagements with the citizens and they are not campaigning as claimed by some Liberians.

“Interactions with the citizens are different from campaigning. We are respecters of the law and we are not campaigning because it is against the constitution and we are law abiding people. We respect the stay order. In fact, we filed in at the Supreme Court and how we can complaint and violate our own compliant. We cannot do so and that’s why you don’t see our photos or banners.  So, this is totally untrue, misleading and it’s false and no truth in it,” Abel Plackie said.

Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence of Grand Bassa County:

Also speaking, the office of the Political Leader of Liberty Party (LP) and stalwart of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) denied the allegations.

Speaking on behalf of the incumbent Grand Bassa County Senator, a staff in the office, Daniel Sando said “I don’t know for what reasons emphasis have been placed on allegations that are not only unfounded, but are completely baseless and farfetched.”

Sando further said “We were proceeding with electoral process and the NEC has set the 10th of October to formally get the campaign started. If there were any further actions taken by the Supreme Court and subsequently the Elections Commission issued a warning that candidates should refrain from campaign activities, it doesn’t mean what was done on October 10 can be undone only because the NEC has issued a warning. So, since the Supreme Court ruled, we have been very observant and those accusing should point out instances where we have been involved into campaign activities. Those allegations should not be taken seriously. When you look across Montserrado County, you see billboards of the ruling establishment all up vote, vote and the same was done in Grand Bassa County by the CDC’s candidate.”

Gbehzohngar Milton Findley of Grand Bassa County:

When contacted, the Head of Media of Mr. Findley said the former Pro-Temp is a law abiding citizen and he is so acquainted with the laws of Liberia especially when it comes to the mandate of the Supreme Court.

Hilary Mento said “Mr. Gbehnzohnar Findley can’t violate the mandate of the Supreme Court. It’s misleading information. It’s a lie intended to lower down the high promoted speech that the people of Grand Bassa are running with for Gbehzohngar.”

According to Mento, the allegation is coming from a program that Mr. Findley attended on Sunday. He said it was an organization that invited Mr. Findley and he honored it and they assured him of victory if their document is acted upon as envisioned by them and not a campaign as alleged.

“Campaign was declared on the 10th of October 2020 and people who were confirmed by the National Elections Commission prepared their voting campaign messages on billboards and automatically, our foot soldiers planted billboards and since the billboards were planted when the Supreme court came back and placed a stay order; you and myself know that it becomes impossible to go back and uproot those billboards, even the CPP has not done that because it will cost another cash,” Mento said.

He further added “What we know, we put a stop to the campaign activities, but not to go and uproot that. Even though if the Supreme Court says go and uproot that, we will adhere to the Supreme Court’s mandate. Stay order means to stay to where you are and don’t   add anything until we say so. Where we were is where we are and no additional billboards.”

Representative Thomas P. Fallah, Montserrado County

For his part, Mr. Peter Bemah from the Campaign Team of Representative Thomas P. Fallah said the Montserrado County senatorial candidate is not in the business defying the Supreme Court’s order.

“What happened is that the campaign officially opened on the 10th of October 2020 and all those billboards that are up now were put up between 2:00am to 12:00pm on the 10th of October 2020. The billboards suppose to go in several other places and when the Supreme Court put a stay order on the process, we have to pause to the mandate of the Supreme Court. Those billboards were up hours before the Supreme Court’s mandate. No flyers, billboards put up since the mandate.”

“There is no campaign and what happening is community engagements that started since June 2020. Campaign has not started. We just been having meetings and communities extending invitations for meetings,” Bemah said.’

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