MODEL Takes Gov't To Court In 7 Days, Condemns ECOM's Dismissal of Staff

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

November 23, 2002

The Movement for Democracy and Elections in Liberia (MODEL) has vowed to institute a lawsuit against the Government of Liberia.

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday of the week, MODEL's Executive Director K-Hasting Panyonnoh, said the legal action of his organization was provoked by the acquiescence of Government in the illegal arrest and imprisonment of MODEL Project Officer Sherman Seequeh and ECOM Elections Magistrate George Kabakollie, and the confiscation of MODEL workshop materials in Rivercess County during a trip there to conduct civic education.

The MODEL boss said the maltreatment of the civil education officers and the obstruction of their duties by Rivercess Superintendent Benjamin Gee contravenes Article 15 of the Liberian Constitution which provides for citizens’ right to impart and receive information and knowledge. He said the Constitution also quarantees the right to legal action in an event of the curtailment of that Constitutional provision.

It can be recalled that MODEL Project Offer Sherman Seequeh and ECOM’s Elections Magistrate George Kabakollie in August reported the violation of their rights to free movement and to impart civic education and the confiscation of properties by Superintendent Gee.

Nearly five months ago since the incident, MODEL Executive Director Panyonnoh said both the Ministries of Justice and Internal Affairs continue to ignore and slight repeated calls and follow-ups to address complaints filed by the organization against Superintendent Gee.

"It is regrettable that these institutions of Government funded by tax payers money to protect lives and properties and ensure harmony and the happiness of Liberians would chose to ignore the unwarranted affront of their agent against law-abiding persons working in the interest of the people of Liberia," Panyonnoh said. "For commandeering our properties and abusing our staff and another peaceful citizen of Liberia, and for curtailing the rights of the people of Rivercess to the knowledge, MODEL is poised to file a lawsuit against the state if nothing is done in seven days to revert the course of events."

The democracy activist also expressed worry over the fate of civil/voter education activities for the ensuing 2003 elections when state agents have begun to assault and abuse civic educators.

"The Elections Commission which is under statutory obligation to embark upon civil education activities in the country is yet to conduct a single one in spite of the fact that elections are due in less than 12 months," Panyonnoh observed. "We therefore are taken aback that instead of government encouraging private efforts, it is doing the opposite. This is an appalling sign for free and fair elections next year."

Panyonnoh who has just returned to the country having spent five months in the United States of America at the invitation of the Union of Liberian Associations in the America and the Liberia Democratic Initiative reaffirmed his organization’s determination to accelerate civic education activities in the country for the good of the ordinary Liberians.

He reported that while in the United States, he held discussions with prominent Liberians and senior members of the United States Government on the need to support Liberia's democratization process.

Meanwhile, MODEL has denounced the dismissal of Montserado County’s Senior Elections Magistrate George Kabakollie by ECOM authority for reasons that include his alleged affiliation with MODEL.

At a press conference early this week, MODEL boss K-Hasting Panynnoh said the action of ECOM undermines the integrity of a Commission relied upon to oversee Liberia’s democratization.

Panyonnoh made it clear that Kabakollie was never employed by MODEL but was simply requested to facilitate a session of the Supt. Gee-aborted workshop in Cestos City, Rivercess County.

"It is regrettable that an august body like ECOM would muddle the daily bread of a struggling Liberian based on fluid reasons and unresearched information,” Panyonnoh said. “MODEL, as an election-related organization has always been in concert with ECOM during most of its activities, which is why a number of senior officers of that body, including former Magistrate Kabakollie, were asked to facilitate some sessions of our civic education workshop. We never knew it was a crime until Kabakollie was dismissed."

© The Perspective
P.O. Box 450493
Atlanta, GA 31145