REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA
NATIONAL ELECTIONS COMMISSION
16TH STREET, SINKOR
GUIDELINES RELATING TO THE REGISTRATION OF POLITICAL PARTIES AND INDEPENDENT CANDIDATES
NATIONAL ELECTIONS COMMISSION
17 JANUARY 2005
WHEREAS, Article 89 of the January 6, 1986 Constitution of the Republic of Liberia established the Elections Commission as an autonomous public Commission;
WHEREAS, Chapter 2 Section 2.9 of the 1986 Elections Law empowers the National Elections Commission to formulate and enforce electoral guidelines;
WHEREAS, the National Elections Commission (NEC), successor to the Elections Commission (ECOM), was created by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in Accra, Ghana, on 18th August 2003 by the three warring parties, namely the then Government of Liberia (GOL), the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), and the 18 registered Liberian political parties, aimed at ending the 14-years Liberian Civil Crisis;
WHEREAS, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), mandates the National Elections Commission (NEC) to reform the present electoral system in Liberia in order to ensure that the rights and interests of all Liberians are guaranteed, and that the elections are organized in a manner that is acceptable to all;
WHEREAS, on 23 December 2004 the Electoral Reform Law entered into force, suspending certain provisions of the Constitution and amending sections of the New Elections Law of 1986, which necessitate the issuance of new guidelines regulating the registration of political parties and independent candidates;
NOW THEREFORE: Pursuant to its authority herein above stated, the National Elections Commission hereby promulgates the following guidelines:
Chapter I. General provisions
Section 1. Citation
These guidelines may be cited as the Political Party and Independent Candidate Registration Guidelines. These guidelines shall replace sections 1-16 of the 1986 Guidelines and Regulations relating to the formation and registration of Political Parties and Political Activities, Nomination of Candidates by Political Parties and Independent Candidates within the Republic of Liberia.
Section 2. Definitions
2.1 In these guidelines, unless the context otherwise requires:
(a) “Commission” means the National Elections Commission
(b) “Constitution” means the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia of 6 January 1986, certain provisions of which have been suspended pursuant to the Electoral Reform Law of 23 December 2004;
c) “Political party” means an association with a membership of not less than five hundred qualified voters in each of at least twelve (12) counties of Liberia in the case of new political parties, or such membership in each of at least six (6) counties in the case of existing political parties, whose activities include canvassing for votes on any public issue or in support of a candidate for elective public office;
(d) “Registration” means the registration of a political party by the National Elections Commission pursuant to article 79 of the Constitution, by which legal personality is vested in the entity so registered and on the basis of which the political party is entitled to function as such.
2.2 For the purposes of implementing these guidelines, a member of a political party is a qualified voter who pays regular membership fees or contributions or who is in possession of a party membership card, and who by virtue of being a member in good standing is included in the membership list of the political party. No person shall be a member of more than one political party at the same time.
Chapter II. Canvassing for membership
Section 3. Notification to the Commission of intention to canvass for membership
3.1 The organizing committee of a proposed political party wishing to register a political party shall notify the Commission of its intention to canvass for members in order to meet the minimum membership requirements as provided by the Electoral Reform Law. The form of notification shall be in prescribed form PP-001, as specimen of which is contained in annex 1 hereto, and must be notarized.
3.2 The organizing committee shall submit the following documents along with its notification to the Commission:
(a) A notarized list of the members of the organizing committee of the proposed political party, indicating the address, including the post box and the telephone number, and/or other details of each member;
(b) A copy of the By-Laws and Constitution of the proposed political party;
(c) A copy of the Articles of Incorporation of the proposed political party;
(d) The emblem or motto of the proposed political party;
(e) The objectives and ideology of the proposed political party;
(f) The address and location of the proposed political party headquarters which includes its post office address;
(g) A declaration providing that membership of the proposed political party shall be open to every Liberian citizen irrespective of sex, religion or ethnic background, except as may be otherwise provided by the Constitution.
3.3 The name, emblem and motto and any other marks or features of the proposed political party must be distinct from, and bear no resemblance to, that of any other political party and of any other proposed political party which has already notified the Commission within the meaning of this section.
Section 4. Correction of deficiencies
If the Commission determines that the requirements of section 3 have not been met, it shall inform the organizing committee of the proposed political party within seven (7) days of receipt of the notification and provide an opportunity to the proposed political party to correct any deficiencies within seven (7) days thereafter.
Section 5. Deadline for notifying the Commission
No notification within the meaning of this chapter shall be received by the Commission seven (7) months or less before the elections.
Section 6. Facilitation of canvassing for membership
6.1 Within 7 days of receipt of a notification in compliance with section 3 above, the Commission shall notify Superintendents of counties through the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the intention of the proposed political party to canvass for membership in the county. Such notification shall include a request for the cooperation and protection by local authorities and citizens for the members of the proposed political party while canvassing for membership.
6.2 Having notified the Superintendents under section 6.1 above, the Commission shall serve a letter of introduction of the proposed political party on the county authorities and copy the proposed political party.
6.3 No party shall knowingly include in its membership list a person who is a member of another party.
Chapter III. Registration of proposed political parties
Section 7. No participation in elections without registration
7.1 No entity shall function as a political party unless it has been registered with the Commission within the meaning of article 79 of the Constitution and in accordance with the present guidelines. Consequently, no political party shall be allowed to participate in elections or otherwise engage in political activities other than those defined in section 7.3 hereunder prior to or without being registered with the Commission.
7.2 A proposed political party shall not be considered registered until and unless a certificate of registration has been issued to it by the Commission.
7.3 An entity engaging in any political activities other than the following activities without registration by the Commission, or in misrepresenting its registration status to the public, may be denied registration and consequently participation in the elections, in accordance with section 12 below:
(a) Political party membership drive (canvassing members);
(b) Establishment of party offices (national and local);
(c) Fundraising activities;
(d) Political party meetings.
Section 8. Requirements for registration
8.1 An application to be registered as a political party must be in prescribed form PP-002, a specimen of which is contained in annex 2 hereto. The application form must be signed by the Chairman of the organizing committee and General Secretary of the proposed political party and must be notarized. The following documents must be attached to the application form:
(a) A certified copy of the articles of incorporation of the proposed political party
(b) A notarized membership list of not less than five hundred (500) eligible voters in each of at least twelve (12) counties of the Republic. The list shall include the names, addresses, and other contact details of the members, as well the date of their membership. The list shall be grouped by county. The list may also be submitted in electronic format.
8.2 Upon submission of the application for registration to the Commission, the proposed political party shall provide to the Commission the name, address (including post box and mailing address) and telephone number of a designated proposed political party liaison officer for all matters relating to its application, and shall in addition pay to the Commission a processing fee of three hundred United States dollars (US$ 300) or its equivalent in Liberian dollars.
8.3 The proposed political party must, in addition, comply with the following requirements:
(a) membership of the political party is open to every citizen of Liberia, irrespective of sex, religion or ethnic background, except as may otherwise be provided in the Constitution;
(b) it has established a national headquarters in Monrovia;
(c) the name, objective, emblem and motto of the proposed political party is free from any religious connotations or divisive ethnic implications and the activities of the political party are not limited to a special group or to a particular geographic area of Liberia;
(d) the constitution and rules of the proposed political party conform to the provisions of the Constitution, provide for democratic elections of officers and/or governing body at least once every six years, and ensure the election of officers from as many of the regions and ethnic groupings in the country as possible which must reflect a gender balance;
(e) the proposed political party has at least 500 members, all being eligible voters, in each of at least twelve (12) counties.
8.4 A proposed political party or political party organization which proposes to contest the 2005 elections shall apply for registration for political party status not less than six (6) months prior to the elections.
Section 9. Process for registration: receipt of complete application
9.1 The Commission shall, upon receiving the application, issue a written and dated notice of receipt.
9.2 The Commission shall, upon receiving an application, review whether the proposed political party has submitted all required documents as prescribed in section 8 above. The Commission shall, within seven (7) days of receipt of the application, notify the party liaison officer if any of the required forms and documents are missing or incomplete, and offer an opportunity to correct them and return them to the Commission within seven (7) days thereafter.
Section 10. Process for registration: verification of membership lists
10.1 Within seven (7) days of having received a complete and notarized membership list, the Commission shall ensure that the membership list corresponding to each county shall be made public in the respective counties. This shall include posting the list at the office of the Magistrate of elections and at other public places throughout the county. The costs incurred by the Commission in this regard shall be defrayed by the processing fee paid by the political party.
10.2 Within seven (7) days of filing the application for registration, a proposed political party must cause the notarized membership lists filed in support of the application to be published in their entirety in two Liberian newspapers at the same time. The political party must inform the Commission two (2) days prior to the publication.
10.3 Any registered political party or citizen of Liberia, who has the legal capacity or standing to object to any name or names on the list, may file an objection against the membership of the proposed political party with the Commission within seven (7) days after publication of the full membership list. The conditions for objection shall be limited to the following:
(a) That the names of a person or persons appearing on the list were fraudulently obtained without his/her consent;
(b) That the name(s) of a person or persons appearing on the list are already members of other parties;
(c) That the list carries the name of a deceased person or persons;
(d) That a name or names appearing on the list is/are not citizens of Liberia or are not real persons;
(e) That a name or names of persons appearing on the list is/are disqualified or disenfranchised by reason of their conviction for an infamous crime for which he/she/they are serving a term of imprisonment or for being of unsound mind; and
f) That a person or persons on the list is/are not of legal age to vote.
10.4 Political parties or citizens wishing to object pursuant to this section shall do so using prescribed form PP-003, a specimen of which is contained in annex 3 hereto.
10.5 The Commission shall hear each objection and make a determination thereon within fourteen (14) days of receipt of the objection. The Commission shall inform the proposed political party and the objectors of its determination, subject however to an appeal to the Supreme Court.
Section 11. Process for registration: verification
The Commission may take all lawful steps which it considers necessary to verify the accuracy of the application, including the holding of hearings. The proposed political party, including its officers, members and agents, shall afford full cooperation to the Commission in this verification process.
Section 12. Determination of the application for registration
12.1 Within 30 days of receipt of a complete application in compliance with section 8 above, the Commission shall make a determination in respect of the application to register the political party. This review period may, in exceptional circumstances, be extended by a period of no more than 14 days, if in the view of the Commission this is required to obtain additional information from the proposed political party or from other sources to determine whether the applicant meets all requirements for registration. The Commission shall inform the proposed political party in writing if it deems such additional time necessary.
12.2 If the proposed political party has met all the requirements contained in section 8 and section 10.2 above, the Commission shall register the political party, unless the Commission is of the opinion that:
(a) the proposed political party has made false declarations to the Commission in the formation or registration process;
(b) by reason of its aims or the behavior of its adherents, the proposed political party seeks to impair or abolish the free democratic society of Liberia or to endanger the existence of the Republic;
(d) the proposed political party has clandestinely retained, organized or equipped, or attempts to retain, organize or equip and train any person or group of persons for the use of physical force or coercion in promoting any political objective or interest; or
(e) the proposed political party has engaged in political activities other than those defined in section 7.3 above without being registered with the Commission, or has misrepresented its registration status to the public.
12.3 The Commission shall inform the proposed political party of its decision in writing and publish it in local media. If the Commission decides to register the proposed political party, it shall issue a certificate of registration to the political party.
12.4 If the Commission refuses an application for registration, it shall notify the proposed political party of the reasons therefore in writing. If the Commission determines that the requirements contained in section 8 have not been met, the proposed political party shall have an opportunity to rectify and resubmit the application within seven (7) days of the date of receipt of the notification of the Commission’s determination. The Commission will make a determination on the re-submitted application within seven (7) days thereafter and shall notify the proposed political party accordingly.
12.5 Appeal from the Commission’s decision may be made to the Supreme Court.
Chapter IV. Obligations of registered and accredited parties and procedure for nomination of political party candidates
Section 13: Establishment of national and local offices and keeping of records/code of conduct of political parties
13.1 All registered political parties shall be required to establish and maintain a functioning office in the capital of the Republic of Liberia and at least one functioning local office in the capital of each of the existing counties in Liberia for which the party intends to field candidates. These offices shall have been established and shall be available for inspection by the Commission not later than eight (8) weeks prior to elections.
13.2 Each political party shall maintain a bank account with a balance of no less than ten thousand United States dollars (US$ 10,000) or its equivalent in Liberian dollars.
13.3 Each political party shall keep proper and accurate records of the following:
(a) Financial, accounting, banking and administrative records;
(b) Itemized list of all financial contributions made to the party, containing details of the names of the contributors and the dates the contributions were made;
(c) Minutes of all meetings held; and
(d) Membership roster.
13.4 The records shall be made available to the Commission for inspection, upon its giving to the political party three (3) days notice in writing.
13.5 The requirements listed in section 13.1 through 13.4 above shall constitute pre-conditions for participation in any elections.
13.6 Political parties shall abide by a code of conduct, which shall be drawn up in consultation among the political parties subject to endorsement by the Commission.
Section 14: National and local conventions
14.1 National Conventions: There shall be held at least every six (6) years a national convention by every registered political party in an orderly manner to elect its National Governing Body to serve for a period not exceeding six (6) years. They may be re-elected to serve for as many terms as the party may wish. At the National Convention, the party shall also nominate its presidential and vice presidential candidates. In any event, any registered political party which proposes to nominate one or more candidates for elective public office in the 2005 elections, shall hold a convention no later than 1 August 2005.
14.2 Local Conventions: There shall also be held at least every six (6) years a local convention by every registered political party. At each local convention, the party shall nominate its candidates for the National Legislature. There shall also be held local conventions by each registered political party for the nomination of candidates to participate in all elections including special and by-elections. In any event, any registered political party which proposes to nominate one or more candidates for the National Legislature in the 2005 elections, shall hold a local convention in 2005, on a date no later than 1 August 2005.
14.3 To ensure participatory democracy, each political party shall ensure that every political sub-division of the country is represented on the National Governing Body or National Executive Committee of the party and at least every electoral district in a county is represented on the local governing body of the local party.
14.4 Notice of every convention shall be given maximum publicity by the party through all appropriate means at least 14 days prior to the start of the convention. Such means shall include, but not be limited to, broadcasting the notice on radio for a period of at least three (3) days.
14.5 Within seven (7) days following the convention, each political party shall submit to the Commission a list of its National and Local officers, including those of the National Governing Body or National Executive Committee showing the political areas each of them represents.
14.6 Within seven (7) days following the convention, the political party shall give notice to the Commission of the venue of its next National Convention, and the party’s platform adopted at the last convention.
Section 15: Procedure for nomination of political party candidates to the Commission
15.1 Within fourteen (14) days following the convention, and in any event no later than eight (8) weeks prior to the elections, each political party shall submit to the Commission a list of candidates nominated at the convention showing the elective public offices which they are to fill. The list shall contain the name, address, age, sex, occupation, positions previously held (if any), elective office sought, and such other qualifications required for the elective office sought as provided by the Constitution and the Elections Law. Letters of intent must be submitted to the Commission from each political party candidate stating his/her willingness to serve when elected, which must also be submitted within fourteen (14) days following the convention.
15.2 Each political party shall ensure that 30% of the candidates nominated for public elective offices by that political party shall be women.
15.3 The Commission reserves the right to reject a nominated candidate for any elective public office who is not qualified under the Elections Law or the Constitution, or who does not meet the requirements of these guidelines, subject however to a right of appeal to the Supreme Court of Liberia.
Chapter V: Independent candidates
Section 16: Participation of independent candidates in any election
Any registered voter who is qualified for any elective public office, whether or not he/she is a member of any political party, shall have the right to participate in any general, special or by-election as an independent candidate by filing with the Commission, a letter of intent acknowledged and verified by him/her. The said letter shall constitute a declaration of intent and shall contain the following information:
(a) The full name of the aspirant, his/her age, and address;
(b) Positions previously held, if any;
(c) The elective public office sought;
(d) Other qualifications for the office sought as provided in the Constitution and the Elections Law;
(e) Declaration that when elected, he/she shall serve as such and shall protect, support, defend and uphold the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia and the laws of the land.
Section 17: Independent candidate for the office of President and Vice President of Liberia
Anyone aspiring for the office of President or Vice President of Liberia as an Independent Candidate shall file with the Elections Commission, in addition to his/her letter of intent, a petition requesting him/her to stand for the presidency or vice presidency of the country. The petition must be signed by a representative group of registered voters of not less than five hundred (500) from each of at least 12 counties in the country, listed by counties. The petition together with the complete list of registered voters shall be published by the independent candidate in at least two Liberian newspapers at the same time. The Commission shall make the list public in the counties through all appropriate means, including those listed in section 10.1 above.
Section 18: Independent Candidate for the National Legislature
18.1 Anyone aspiring for the Senate as an independent candidate shall, in addition to his/her letter of intent, file with the Commission a petition signed by not less than five hundred (500) citizens who are registered voters in the county in which the aspiring candidate proposes to stand for election, requesting the candidate to stand for election to the Senate. The Commission shall make the list public in the respective county through all appropriate means, including those listed in section 10.1 above.
18.2 Anyone aspiring for election to the House of Representatives as an independent candidate shall, in addition to his/her letter of intent, file with the Commission a petition signed by not less than (300) three hundred citizens who are registered voters in the electoral district in which the aspiring candidate proposes to stand for election. The Commission shall make the list public in the respective electoral district through all appropriate means, including those listed in section 10.1 above.
Section 19. Verification and determination procedure
19.1 No aspiring independent candidate shall be allowed to submit his/her letter of intent to the Commission eight (8) weeks or less prior to the elections.
19.2 The Commission shall, upon receiving the letter of intent, issue a written and dated notice of receipt.
19.3 The Commission shall, upon receiving a letter of intent, review the same to ascertain whether the aspiring independent candidate has submitted all required documents as prescribed in sections 16, 17 and 18 above. The Commission shall within seven (7) days of receipt of the application, notify the aspiring candidate if any of the forms and documents are missing or incomplete, and offer an opportunity to correct them and return them to the Commission within seven (7) days thereafter.
19.4 The Commission may take all lawful steps which it considers necessary, which may include the holding of hearings, to verify the accuracy of information and documentation submitted, and to verify that the candidate is qualified under the Elections Law and the Constitution. The aspiring candidate shall afford full cooperation to the Commission in this verification process.
19.5 Within 15 days of receipt of a complete letter of intent together with all additional documents required in compliance with sections 16, 17 and 18 above, the Commission shall make a determination on the aspiring independent candidate’s request to stand for elective public office. If the aspiring candidate has met all the requirements contained in these guidelines, and the Commission is of the opinion that he/she is qualified under the Elections Law and the Constitution, the Commission shall grant the request.
19.6 The Commission shall inform the aspiring candidate of its decision in writing and publish the candidate’s name in the list of nominated candidates in the local media.
19.7 If the Commission rejects the request of the aspiring candidate to stand for elective office, the Commission shall notify the aspiring candidate of the reasons therefore in writing. If the Commission determines that the requirements contained in sections 16, 17 and 18 have not been met, the aspiring candidate shall have an opportunity to rectify and resubmit the request within seven (7) days of the date of receipt of the Commission’s determination. The Commission will make a determination on the re-submitted request within seven (7) days thereafter and shall notify the aspiring candidate accordingly.
19.8 Appeal from the Commission’s decision may be made to the Supreme Court.
Chapter VI: Miscellaneous provisions applicable to both political parties and independent candidates
Section 20: Campaign activities
The Commission shall determine and publish the date when canvassing and campaigning shall begin and close in any election. No political party or candidate shall be allowed to proceed to canvass and to campaign unless so declared, and no political party or candidate shall continue beyond the closing date of the campaign. Failure to adhere to any of these guidelines shall constitute an election offense punishable under Chapter 10 of the 2004 amended 1986 Elections Laws. No activity of political parties and independent candidates shall extend beyond the boundaries of the country.
Section 21: Official campaign period and political activities
21.1 The official campaign period shall commence when all of the following conditions are met:
(a) Upon the submission by parties of the names of elected candidates to the Commission;
(b) Upon the announcement of the campaign period by the Commission;
21.2 The following political activities shall be permitted outside the official campaign period:
(a) Political party membership drive;
(b) Establishment of party offices (national and local);
(c) Fundraising activities;
(d) Use of logos on offices and other party properties;
(e) Political party meetings;
(f) Political party national and local conventions;
(g) House to house visits to discuss party policies; and,
(h) Representational activities, including receiving and responding to petitions from constituents.
21.3 Canvassing for votes shall not be allowed outside the official campaign period. Consequently, the following campaign activities relating to the canvassing for votes cannot be carried out outside the official campaign period:
(a) Political rallies;
(b) Political broadcasts, statements and political messages in print and electronic media;
(c) Use of posters, flyers, buntings, advertisement on billboards, public and private buildings and light poles;
(d) T-shirts, caps and other promotional items.
21.4 The official campaign period shall end 24 hours before Elections Day and upon announcement by the Commission.
Section 22: Election Expenses and accountability
The provisions of Article 83(d) of the Constitution and of Chapter 7, Sections 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, of the New Elections Law, title 11, approved September 29, 1986, and published October 4 1986, or its amended version relating to contribution and expenditures of party funds, banking, reporting and accountability, shall be rigidly enforced and strictly adhered to. All candidates shall submit to the Commission, accounts of their elections expenses within fifteen (15) days after the official announcement of the election result. Failure to do so shall constitute an election offense. Violators shall be subject to a fine and/or the withholding of certificates to take seats, until the requirement is fulfilled.
Section 23: Registration fees
23.1 The following registration fees shall be payable to the Commission by all candidates for the following elective offices;
(a) For President US$2,500.00 or its equivalent in Liberian Dollars
(b) For Vice President US$1,500.00 or its equivalent in Liberian Dollars
(c) For a Senator US$750.00 or its equivalent in Liberian Dollars
(d) For a Member of the House of Representatives US$500.00 or its equivalent in Liberian Dollars
23.2 Registration of a candidate is considered complete and effective only upon the payment of his/her registration fee and the exhibit of his/her Voter’s Registration Card to the Commission.
Section 24: Date on which the guidelines become effective
These guidelines shall enter into effect upon publication by the Commission and shall be binding on all citizens and political parties of Liberia. Failure to adhere to any of these guidelines shall constitute an election offense punishable under the New Elections Law, as amended by the Electoral Reform Law of December 2004.
Section 25: Amendments and Revision
These Guidelines may be revised or amended at any time and published by the Commission. All amendments and/or revisions shall become effective upon publication.
List of annexes:
Specimen of Form PP-001 Notification of intention to canvass for membership
Specimen of Form PP-002 Application to register with NEC as political party
Specimen of Form PP-003 Objection to membership list of applicant political party