The National Elections Commission (NEC) yesterday said that it has not given any authorization to the embattled opposition National Patriotic Party (NPP) to go ahead with its planned convention.
Recently, NEC upon hearing about the holding of the convention, advised the party to discontinue such planned convention because the Commission is yet to complete an investigation into misunderstanding within the party’s leadership.
For months the party has been engulfed in leadership crisis, with one group, heading by Randolph Cooper, calling itself interim leadership until convention, but those in the driver’s seat headed by T. C. Gould have considered such interim body as being illegitimate while the so-called interim leadership has accused the Gould’s leadership of overstaying its term of leadership.
It was based on this misunderstanding that the matter claimed the attention of NEC which has begun an investigation to resolve the leadership crisis and warned against the holding of any convention by the so-called interim leadership at the same time advised that until such was resolved, the party should desist from going ahead as planned.
In its recent ruling as the conflict continues, the NEC ruled that the two conflicting groups within the NPP had no legitimacy to steer the affairs of the party and believed that all activities of the NPP should be conducted in line with its constitution.
The Board of Commissioners of the NEC at a meeting with the conflicting parties recently concurred in concert with the constitution of the NPP that Cllr. Gould was no longer qualified to serve as chairman of the party because his tenure expired since March this year.
In order to resolve the long standing conflict within the NPP, the Commission recommended that the two conflicting sides nominate five persons each from which six individuals would be selected to serve as members of the interim leadership of the party.
The interim leadership of the party, according to the NEC’s decision, would be chaired by a neutral partisan who would be elected by both sides and further noted that in the event that the two sides fail to agree on any neutral partisan to serve as Chairman of the seven-member interim committee, the Commission will nominate a list of between three to five prominent Liberians who are not partisans of the NPP, from which the two sides would be required to choose a chairperson.
The seven-member interim committee would be required to take the NPP to convention in December this year in line with the party’s constitution.
However yesterday, some partisans gathered at the NPP’s headquarters in Congo Town to hold their convention as journalists who had gone at the party’s headquarters were told that all was then set for the holding of the convention because the NEC had given it the green light to proceed and that they were only awaiting the arrival of NEC observers to go ahead with the planned convention.
But when the Chairperson of NEC, Jerome Korkoyah was contacted last evening, he denied that the Commission gave “authorization” for the party to go ahead with its convention, pointing out, “they are on their own.”
The Chairperson said the only thing that the Commission can do is to advise them, which he said the commission did, but that if they elect or decide to go ahead contrary to the advice of the Commission it can do nothing to stop the party from holding such unauthorized convention.
Chairperson Korkoyah said the best the party can do is to pay heed to the Commission, stating it is good to abide by the rules, instead of engaging in the holding of a convention that is not healthy for the party.
Meanwhile, amidst the NEC’s advice, some party stalwarts like Bomi County Senator Sando Johnson, former senator LahaiLansanah and Bong County Representatives, George Mulbah, Randolph Cooper and Cyril Allen still went ahead lobbying that the convention be held.
Those who contested for the position of National Chairperson were James T. Varney, Lawrence A. George and the party’s former chairperson Cyril Allen; others who contested were SandoDazoe Johnson, LahaiLansanah and Anthony Barclay for the position of National Vice Chairperson for Administration.
Others positions were the National Vice Chairperson for Operations and Mobilization whose candidates were George S. Mulbah and TartenWontee; National Treasurer contestants were Randolph Cooper, and David Kolleh; Kollie Kamara and William Knowlden vied for the position of National Vice Chairperson for Planning and Policy and the National Vice Chairperson for Finance and Investment post contestants were NeilehDaitouah and Thomas Pluato.
Our reporters who covered the purported convention observed that the process began under the cover of darkness with no NEC observers present, an indication that the convention was only a charade because even the party’s standard bearer, Jewel Howard Taylor and some other key partisans were absent.
Even though partisans emerged as winners during the purported convention, to the conveners it was a success but, observers believe that the results are just another (mock-convention) exercise because according to our reporters, the election was conducted by one of the registered voters, Solomon Jargbalo from Grand Gedeh County instead of a neutral person.
A total of 325 partisans were qualified to vote and the exercise began by county and delegates and this was how the election commissioner Jargbelo started the process; Bomi 11 delegates; Bong 23 delegates; Grand Cape Mount 11 delegates, Gbarpolu 11, Grand Bassa 17, Grand Gedeh 11, Grand Kru 8; Lofa 17; Margibi 17; Maryland 11, Montserrado 53; Nimba 29; River Gee 11; Sinoe 11 and RvierCess 8.