The Coalition for Democratic Change or CDC is warning former interim president Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer, to abandon his current campaign, seeking suspension of Part V, Sections 5.1 and 5.2 of the Code of Conduct for public officials.
Both sections of the Code of Conduct bar senior officials from the Executive Branch of Government with political interest, who did not resign from their positions two years prior to elections.
Section 5.1: 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.
5.2 reads, “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.”
At a news conference on Monday, 01May in Monrovia, the national chairman of the Coalition Nathaniel McGill, called on Dr. Sawyer, who chairs the Governance Commission to immediately disengage in his fight to have these sections of the Code of Conduct suspended.
After dangling two years on the docket of the Supreme Court of Liberia, the full Bench of the highest court on March 3, 2017 in a 3-2 vote ruled that the Code is constitutional and does not in any way violate any provision of the organic laws of the land.
Chairman McGill reminded that Dr. Sawyer is the crafter of the Code of Conduct, so he (Sawyer) should step aside since in fact, the Governance commission is the author of the document, which has today become a national guiding tool, especially for the 2017 Representatives and Presidential elections.
According to him, Dr. Sawyer’s call should not be honored by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf because any attempt by the President to listen to such ‘unconstitutional’ call could render the country lawless, something, that may thwart the good governance legacy of Madam Sirleaf.
Dr. Amos Sawyer recommended that Part V Sections 5.1 and 5.2 of the Code of Conduct “be considered inapplicable” to the 2017 Presidential and Legislative Elections.
The call is part of several recommendations made by the GC to the Supreme Court of Liberia and the National Elections Commission (NEC) in its 2016 Annual Report released recently on Liberia’s 2017 electoral system.
“Thus, far from seeing the 2017 elections as a sanitized process, the report considers the elections as building blocks upon which Liberia should advance to another level of inclusive, participatory, transparent and accountable governance capable of delivering increased public goods and services in partnership with the Liberian people and international partners,” the Governance Commission’s report noted.
But McGill argues that the call is intended to create unnecessary tension ahead of the elections, which many anticipate to be the first peaceful transition of political power here. Meanwhile, 28 persons believed to be partisans of the opposition Liberty Party have crossed over to the Coalition.
The group is headed by legislative of Grand Bassa County, Dr. Samuel Bennett. Dr. Bennett says the decision is based on their conviction that the CDC is the best option for the pending elections.
Political crisscrossing has become a common play here with citizens, especially aspirants leaving one party for another after failing to qualify for primary.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor -Editing by Jonathan Browne