…Supreme Court Says
By James K. Kadi Jr.
The Supreme Court of Liberia has told the National Elections (NEC) that it was in error for not giving Liberty Party Vice Standard Bearer, Harrison Karnwea due process.
At a hearing Thursday before the Full Bench of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Francis Korkpor said Karnwea should have been investigated by the NEC before rejecting his nomination to contest the upcoming elections.
Mr. Harrison Karnwea was recently rejected by the National Elections Commission (NEC) on grounds that he was in violation of Section 5.2 of the Code of Conduct, which calls for the resignation of appointed officials two years prior to the holding of elections.
Days later, Liberty Party filed a Bill of Exception to the Supreme Court claiming that its Vice Standard Bearer is not in violation of the Code of Conduct.
According to the party, Mr. Karnwea resigned as Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) on March 9, 2017.
Lawyers representing the Liberty Party argued that Mr. Karnwea could not resign two years prior to the elections because he did not desire to contest, instead, he was picked by its Standard Bearer Cllr. Charles W. Brumskine as running mate; therefore, the Code of Conduct is not applicable.
In the Bill of Exception, the party contended that it was impossible for Mr. Karnwea to have known that he was going to be picked by Cllr. Brumskine as running mate.
However in their response, the legal team of NEC said Mr. Karnwea engaged in political activities while serving as Managing Director of the FDA.
This, NEC said indicates that Karnwea used government facilities, equipment and/or resources in support of the party or political activities prior to his resignation from the Unity Party.
NEC argues that the resignation of Karnwea from the Unity Party and joining the Liberty Party, gives him an “obvious under advantage over other candidates, which he intends to employ for personal electoral lead.”
The Commission further argued that Karnwea should not be rewarded for what it refers to as ‘egregious violation’ of the Code of Conduct by allowing him to contest.
The National Election Commission legal Team led by Cllr. Musa Dean, contended that Karnwea violated Part V, Section 5.1 of the Code of Conduct , which states that “All officials appointed by the president of the Republic of Liberia shall not (a) engage in Political activities, canvas or contest for electoral offices ;(b)use Government facilities , equipment or resources in support of partisan or political activities ; (c) serve on a campaign team of any political party , or the campaign of any independent candidate.’’
Following legal arguments by both parties, the Supreme Court reserved ruling pending notice of assignment.