It may appear as if the Executive and Legislative Branches of the Liberian Government are at variance over the issue of this year’s Midterm Senatorial Elections, already scheduled for October 14. Liberian Chief Executive Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, acting in consonance with the powers vested in her by the 1986 Liberian Constitution and Declaration of the State of Emergency, on October 4, 2014, issued a Proclamation indefinitely suspending the holding of the October 14, 2014 Mid-Term Senatorial Elections, following a communication to the Legislature.
On Monday, May 12, 2015 President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf signed into law a national Code of Conduct for ‘all public officials and employees’ of the Government of Liberia. The passage of the National Code of Conduct is in consonance with Article 90c of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, which states that “the Legislature shall prescribe a Code of Conduct for all public officials and employees, stipulating the acts which constitute
conflict of interest or are against public policy, and the penalties for violation thereof”.
Since passed and signed, debates on the Code has been less tensed until in recent time, especially in the wake of and following the just-ended National Convention of the ruling Unity Party. The application of the Code of Conduct against a number of ‘appointed public officials’ who now serves in strategic positions within the Unity Party is the focus of the debate. While some consider the presence of these public officials in key
positions of the UP as a violation of the Code, others see it otherwise, in terms of pursuing any affront thereof through legal means.
Section 5.1 of the Code states that ‘All Officials appointed by the President of the Republic of Liberia shall not: a) engage in political activities, canvass or contest for elected 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”, while 5.2 says “Wherein, any person in the category stated in section 5.1 herein above, desires to canvass or contest for an elective public position, the following shall apply; a) Any Minister, Deputy Minister, Director-General, Managing Director and Superintendent appointed by the President pursuant to article 56 (a) of the Constitution and a Managing Director appointed by a Board of Directors, who desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said post at least two (2) years prior to the date of such public elections; b) Any other official appointed by the President who holds a tenured position and desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said post three (3) years prior to the date of such public elections; c) However, in the case of impeachment, death, resignation or disability of an elected official, any official listed above, desirous of canvassing or contesting to fill such position must resign said position within thirty days following the declaration by the National Elections Commission of the vacancy”.
More puzzling and even confusing is the issue of the definition of “public officials” mot really mentioned by the Code of Conduct, i.e., who a public official is as enshrined in the Code.
Perhaps it is in view of the foregoing that Members of the Legislature – empowered by the Constitution to prescribe a Code of Conduct for ‘all public officials’ and employees of the government are counting themselves out of Section 15.1 of the Code on grounds that they are ‘elected officials’. This may not only be unfair, but very wicked and divisive.
While public opinion may be over-shadowing the views of those who
believe there’s violation, it is prudent and in the best interest of
our democracy that legal recourse take precedence in interpreting this
It is furthermore in our best interest to pursue this issue through
the Supreme Court of Liberia to save us time and energy since
Presidential and Representative Elections are about a year and half
Other than pursuing the “court of public opinion’ to address such
issue, people of well-meaning national pride and those who feel
aggrieved must now seize the opportunity to constructively engage the
Supreme Court of Liberia with this matter to avoid future
embarrassment during the electoral process.
No matter how many radio talk shows, advocacies, intellectualism and
so forth we pursue now and then to handle this matter, it is only the
Supreme Court of Liberia that can finally decide or interprete what we
all claim to be understanding about these aspects of the National Code
Calestous Juma is Professor of the Practice of International Development at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He is the author of the forthcoming book Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies.
For a few days now, Monrovia and its environs seem to be experiencing a reduction in the movement and sirens of ambulance vehicles unlike previous days. There are even reports of empty beds at some of the Ebola Treatment Units, especially the ELWA center operated by the medical charity-Medicins Sans Frontieres. Even if the foregoing assertions are something to confirm, the conclusion may not even be that the war against the deadly Ebola disease is subsiding in Liberia.
Article 15 of the Liberian Constitution gives Liberians certain basic rights, including FREEDOM OF SPEECH and that of the PRESS with responsibilities. Since President Sirleaf’s incumbency, this Constitutional provision continues to be adequately utilized, especially through radio phone-in talk shows and other forums.
Even though the United States, at the head of other nations and multilateral institutions and organizations has begun intervening, Liberia is assiduously struggling towards little success in the war against the deadly Ebola virus disease. As the 4000 American intervention troops begin setting up in Monrovia, Liberian medical authorities continue to bend backward daily to ensure that more Liberians don not succumb to Ebola.
Since the National Constitutional Review Conference held from March 29 to April 2, 2015 in the Central Liberian City of Gbarnga in Bong County, the leadership of the Liberian Muslim Community - especially the National Imam Council, continues to be very uneasy and untiring about the results of the conference – one of which calls for the Christianization of Liberia.
Recently immediately following the administration of the annual West African Examination Council or WAEC Exams in Liberia, the Ministry of Education warned secondary school authorities against graduating students before the results of the exams.
Liberia has, for the past week; again top the headlines of most of the major radio and television networks around- not because it remains one of the three West African countries worst hit by the deadly Ebola virus, but a nation whose citizens continue to export the virus to other countries. When Liberians at home and abroad thought the “Patrick Sawyer Ebola saga” in Nigeria would have now been a history, little did they know that another compatriot, Thomas Eric Duncan would have made news headline the world-over.
The official mandate of the United Nations Mission in Liberia or UNMIL ended on Thursday, June 30, 2016, after thirteen years of successful peace-keeping. But a formal ceremony for its formal drawdown took place on Friday, July 1, 2016 at the Monrovia City Hall, with assurance by the Commander-in- Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia - President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, of the preparedness of the national security apparatus for full national security.
The Government of Liberia recently announced what it referred to as a ‘bumper hazard pay and death benefits for healthcare workers at the frontline of the battle against the deadly Ebola disease across the country. Though Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh made specific reference to health workers in the public health service, he said the deal was reached with health workers out of a motivational standpoint, considering the hazardous nature of the national health crisis with which the government and people of Liberia are currently confronted.