By Symthe-Socrates Saywon
MONROVIA– The Chairman of the National Election Commission of Liberia, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, in a VOA Daybreak Africa interview Thursday giving the Commission’s first reaction to the ruling on the “Code of Conduct” issued yesterday by Supreme Court of Liberia ruling in a case brought before the high Court by Vice Presidential Aspirant of the Liberty Party, Mr Harrison Karnwea after he was denied nomination for violating the Code of conduct, said he respects the ruling of the Court but thinks ” the requirement of “due process” might not only impact the rest of the commission’s schedule but likely open a floodgate of due process complaints and appeals”.
The Commission Chairman further told VOA that “the Justices of the High Court acknowledged that Karnwea violated Section 5.1 of the contentious Code of Conduct (CoC) by holding a press conference on March 14 while serving as Managing Director of the Forestry Development Agency (FDA). Mr Karnwea announced his resignation from the ruling party and officially joined the Liberty Party.
In the Court’s ruling, they opined that Mr. Karnwea should have been those spelt out in Section 5.9 of the Code of Conduct, noting, that the National Elections Commission did not exercise “due process” before disbarring Karnwea from contesting as Vice President on the ticket of the Liberty Party.
“Everyone must be given an opportunity to be heard, the level of penalty should be done after the adjudication. We wonder how the NEC made the determination without conducting investigation,” Justice Banks noted.
The court disagreed over the manner in which the records were handled by the NEC, observing that “There is no record filed by NEC lawyers and everyone should be must be given due process. No one should be personally bound until he/she a day in court. NEC made serious error in that the rejection was single handedly signed by the Chairman instead of everyone on the board of commissioners.”
The court ruled that NEC was in grave breach of the Constitution and the election law by rejecting Karnwea without due process. “Due process is mandatory and must be accepted by all legal institutions and it’s a requirement,” Justice Banks said.
Chairman Korkoya in his VOA interview said “while the Commission is not taking issues with the court, when NEC was preparing for the elections, it did not have any provision there for the kind of requirement that has been imposed with respect to the due process”.
“You know, when you give due process, all the attending characteristics will require time. People may appear and then ask you that look I am not ready or my counsel is not here. So all of these requests you have to accommodate. And then you cannot grant due process and don’t abide by all of the attending conditions”, the Commission Chairman told VOA.
“I am just concerned that those kinds of activities that we must accommodate if we have to afford due process may interfere with our planning that could take us a little more further.”
The election is scheduled for October 10, 2017 and final listing of candidates is July 31st while objection of candidates and appeals continue to August 9th but the new imposition by the Supreme Court on the National Election Commission of “due process”, could impact the current timetable which could pose a delay on October 10th scheduled date of the election.