Karnwea, Sulunteh and Kamara, are the first affected by a Code of Conduct related decision from NECSubject to interpretation, NEC rejections set off queue of appeals to Supreme CourtThe realities are now dawning upon Liberians (at home and abroad) as it was inevitable that this day or such a moment would come the since that fateful day when the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Code of Conduct. The infant Code, finally using its teeth, has bitten its first few victims via the rejections of four political aspirants by the National Elections Commission (NEC). But these affected aspirants are not squealing in pain. No, they are barking all the way to the Supreme Court, each with his own case to challenge the NEC’s implementation of the Code of Conduct — and even that is still subject to interpretation.Some affected aspirants are even questioning the sincerity of the National Elections Commission (NEC) as to whether the process is being conducted fairly void of manipulations. They have described the Code as a “biased piece of law, intended to ostracize others from participating in national electoral processes.”When the CoC, which bars presidential appointees from contesting elective posts unless they resigned two/three years prior to the elections, was passed into law and its legitimacy subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court, many had thought that it would have been business as usual as the laws of the country have been relaxed or compromised at one point or another, during this administration.And what many, especially those aspirants caught in the web, took for granted and spoke lightly of is becoming very serious before their own eyes. They thought it would have been business as usual. But certainly this is not the case.The NEC, at the candidate nomination proceedings on Thursday at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports complex in Paynesville, rejected Mr. Harrison Karnwea, the vice standard bearer of Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine’s Liberty Party (LP), as well as Ambassador Jeremiah Sulunteh, vice standard bearer to the former number 2 man at Coca-Cola, Alexander B. Cummings of the Alternative National Congress (ANC).The two vice standard bearers were rejected barely hours after presenting their nomination forms to be finally clear or given authorizations as legitimate contestants at the October polls. These two brings the total number to four of candidates that have been rejected by the NEC. Last week two representative aspirants from Montserrado and Gbarpolu Counties were disqualified by the NEC on the basis of the same COC.They NEC, through its Public Relations boss Henry Flomo, confirmed to the Daily Observer through a telephone conversation on Saturday that the LP Karnwea and ANC Sulunteh were disqualified on the basis of the COC.He further clarified that this does not necessarily mean that they won’t participate in the October elections. “They still have a chance and that rests squarely with them. They can still challenge their rejection and who knows? Anything could happen.”Flomo noted that the nomination and verification exercise is a process. These two were out rightly disqualified because NEC was very confident of them violating the COC.The opposition LP has resolved to engage in a legal battle with the NEC until justice is served. The party has already begun to raise some question about the NEC’s sincerity and integrity as it goes about candidate evaluation exercises immediately after the LP’s Vice standard Bearer, Harrison Karnwea, was out rightly rejected-an information that they initially learned from social media.LP Standard Bearer, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine said at a press conference in Monrovia on Saturday that it was a shame that the party and Karnwea got to know about his fate through social media when the information was allegedly leaked to some ruling party stalwarts. The LP has condemned the leakage of this sensitive information, especially to staunch members of a direct rival party, accusing the NEC of sinister motive.He described the rejection of his running mate as premeditated and that he was denied even prior to the submitting of the nomination as some people had been informed.He said that the LP was accorded no due process as prescribed by section 12.3 of the amended COC, which calls for investigation before a candidate can be denied. He argued that the NEC reached out to neither Karnwea nor the party as was supposed to be done with any individual who is under investigation.The ANC, which has yet to comment on the matter, is expected to do so at a press conference scheduled for today, said Jonathan Dolakeh, Deputy Secretary General of the party.Karnwea is a former managing director of the Forestry Development Authority(FDA) who stepped down in March this year and announced his exit from the ruling Unity Party few days later, crossing over to LP.He was later picked as Cllr. Brumskine’s running mate. Karnwea, during his acceptance speech bragged, “I see no ticket deserving victory than our ticket. I see no ticket that can be easily entrusted with the future of this country other than our ticket,” Karnwea said upon his preferment by Cllr. Brumskine to be his running mate.But this dream seems to be at the brink of collapse or at best, just out of reach, if luck/fortune or chance does not play its part in his favor.Sulunteh resigned his post as Liberian Ambassador to the United States in February and later crossed over to the ANC. He was a top ranking member of the ruling party, serving formerly as senior national vice chairman of UP. He had previously served as Minister of Post and Telecommunications and Minister of Transport.Since its passage, the COC has been the most contentious aspect of the electoral process, generating a lot of debate in-country and the Diaspora. It would be an understatement to insinuate that the court of public opinion will intensify the debate as the NEC continues the candidate evaluation, carrying out background investigations as it relates to all of the 14 counts that could disqualify a specific candidate.These include the COC, the residency clause, citizenship, age requirement, one being domiciled in a specific constituency before s/he can contest a legislative seat; and many more.NEC’s scribe, Flomo, noted that candidates would be disqualified by the commission if they failed any of these. “So this is a process that the NEC is conducting. We just want the chance to do our work. Anyone who feels dissatisfied could go to the Court, which has the power to instruct us on what to do,” he said.He said that the NEC will be coming up with a preliminary listing of candidates before the final listing. “By the NEC accepting your nomination and giving you your package does not necessarily mean you are qualified and will be contesting the elections. It only allows us to know who all are coming in and so we began our investigations, which is tedious and time consuming, as we have to ensure no one violates any of our set rules,” he explained.“So if your name is to even appear in the preliminary listing does not mean you will contest in October. We will still be investigating candidates and anyone who falls short will be disqualified. You can only be relaxed when your name appears on the final listing because that is what we will use to print the ballots. So this is a long process and no one is qualified yet and those who have been rejected could still get a chance but through the legal means,” he said.Certainly with all these requirements, one could come to the conclusion that there will be a lot of cases coming out of the NEC’s nomination an candidate vetting process.This means the docket of the Supreme Court will be full with cases as denied candidates will be trooping in for redress. It could get real messy, by virtue of the sheer uncertainty beclouding the electoral process, a situation the Governance Commission and its Chairman, Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, were trying to avoid when it recommended, in its yearly report, to the NEC and other relevant actors to make the COC inapplicable because of limited time.Dr. Sawyer and his GC received barrage of criticism for calling for the law to be compromise, though this would not have even been the tenth time. Will Sawyer and his GC be vindicated as this saga unfolds? Only time will tell.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Members of the group made the pitch Tuesday to the Santa Clarita City Council after furnishing petitions with more than 60percent of the needed signatures. Roney said the residents and businesses prefer amenities offered by the city. As talk of exploring governance options has reached a fever pitch on the west side, the city and county each have pledged $25,000 for separate studies of the Castaic/Stevenson Ranch/Valencia Westridge territory. The city will explore the impacts of annexation; the county will study the possibility of creating a separate city. Neither Roney nor other members of the group serve on the Castaic Town Council, which has partnered with the West Ranch Town Council to oversee the cityhood study. “They (the Castaic council) generally oppose annexation of the three neighborhoods because they label that as cherry-picking the Castaic community,” Roney said. “(But) in order to annex, you have to have a contiguous border.” Live Oak provides the connection, he said, adding that his group would gladly help circulate petitions throughout Castaic. Castaic Town Council member John Kunak attended the City Council meeting but did not speak. “The city of Santa Clarita is trying to get a foothold into the west side to prevent the formation of a second adjacent city,” he said Wednesday. “Despite this, we’re working with the city to explore annexation if it’s found to be in our best interest, but it would be an annexation of the entire community.” Santa Clarita Councilman Bob Kellar disagreed. “I appreciate what Mr. Kunak has said, but I don’t think his perception is exactly accurate,” Kellar said. “I don’t think we can discount the representatives of those three communities who came forward and expressed a strong desire to be part of the city.” The Castaic council has narrowed future governance to one of the two options being explored, Kunak said. Its members have spoken with officials from Fillmore, Calabasas and Santa Clarita and to the county Local Agency Formation Commission, which rules on municipal boundary changes. Kunak said the consultant for the cityhood study would be hired within the next month, possibly by next week. Despite the faction, which acted on its own, Kunak said the Castaic and West Ranch town councils seem to be “moving together.” A major player resisting annexation is The Newhall Land and Farming Company, which owns raw land south of Live Oak. “We are opposed to our undeveloped property being part of the annexation,” Newhall Land spokeswoman Marlee Lauffer said. “Our philosophy has been that it is within the county, and that’s where we’re processing our tentative tract maps.” The company supports homeowners’ wishes to annex their neighborhoods, she said. The communities are under the county’s purview. Tony Bell, a spokesman for Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, said the supervisor strongly believes that the residents must have sufficient information to make informed decisions about their future. The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce has created a task force to study the issue before taking a stance. Some in the development and building community are concerned about the move. “Some of the companies in the Valencia Commerce Center would at some point like to have access to the (city’s) enterprise-zone funding incentives,” said Larry Mankin, the chamber’s president and CEO. “On the other side, there are arguments just as strong for not annexing.” The enterprise zone is a key state tax-incentive program, which provides tax-credit and tax-deduction benefits for businesses. The City Council plans to consider the annexation soon but probably not at its next meeting, when a controversial hospital expansion proposal is scheduled. Should the city decide to consider the annexation, the fiscal impacts must be studied. The city receives a portion of the property tax collected within its boundaries, but it doesn’t make up for the cost of providing services, said Kai Luoma, a senior city planner. “It needs to be at least revenue-neutral, unless overriding circumstances of the annexation are a benefit to the city,” he said. The council would make that determination. Timing could play a role in the ultimate decisions. The city- and county-sponsored studies are expected to be done within five months, Luoma said. Should the council consider the partial annexation, the city’s review could take about six months, Luoma said. The application to LAFCO could follow, and LAFCO’s review could take another six months. [email protected] (661) 257-5255 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SANTA CLARITA – Capping two years of preparation, an alliance of Castaic-area home and business owners made a formal bid this week for annexation to the city of Santa Clarita. This comes amid plans by the city and county to study the ramifications of annexation or creating a new city encompassing the west-side communities, including Castaic and Stevenson Ranch. “Our group is not so much opposed to incorporation as supportive of annexation because that can happen right now,” said Brian Roney, a spokesman for the Castaic Annexation Support Team. Included is only a portion of Castaic: the neighborhoods of North Bluff, Hasley Hills and Live Oak and the Valencia Commerce Center.