Despite the warning from the National Elections Commission (NEC) to the opposition National Patriotic Party of Liberia (NPP) against the holding of any convention in the face of leadership crisis in her party, the party defiantly went ahead with its convention last Monday. The process went on in the wake of an ongoing investigation by NEC to find an amicable solution to the leadership crisis.
For months the party has been engulfed in leadership crisis, with one group, headed 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 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 and 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. Disappointingly, while this is yet to be established, some elements of the party went on with the convention.
Hours before the convention, the Commission renewed its warning to the NPP, but the party refused to pay heed and went ahead with its convention, something that is in complete defiance to the advice given by the Commission, as NEC was against its purported convention.
We are taken aback that the party would decide to hold such a convention in the face of a leadership crisis that is yet to be resolved. We are concerned because if a party that is seeking state power begins to flout the rules by disrespecting the institution, with a statutory mandate to give green light to such exercise, there is reason for concern.
Considering the defiance and disrespect exhibited by the party, we call on NEC to put its feet on the ground by taking the appropriate action to serve as deterrence to others.
As we have always said, “This is a country of laws and not of men,” a slogan repeatedly said by the founder of the party, former President Charles Taylor.
Hence, the ball is now in NEC’s court to act in line with its statutory role relative to such disrespect.