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EFFL wants Executive Order #117 scratched

By Lewis S Teh

The Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL) a newly certificated political party, has petitioned the Supreme Court of Liberia to immediately halt the implementation of President George Weah’s Executive Order #117 that calls for presidential appointees desiring to contest in the October 10th election to resign not later than April 7, 2023.

The EFFL recently filed before the Supreme Court for a writ of prohibition, challenging the constitutionality of the President’s move which, according to the group, seeks to undermine the already existing Code of Conduct (COC) for public officials.

The writ, filed before Associate Justice Yamie Quiqui Gbeisaye, Chamber Justice of the Supreme Court, prays the Justice to issue a preliminary injunction, to block the Weah administration’s effort to create a way out for presidential appointees to contest any elected position during the coming elections.

President Weah on Tuesday, March 14, 2023, issued Executive Order #117, mandating all appointed officials of the government aspiring to contest elective positions to resign.

The President’s mandate, which is an amendment made to the 2014 Code of Conduct that was signed on March 14, 2023, is in compliance with Section 5.2 but excludes Section 5.8 of the very Code that prohibits all employees of the Executive from taking an active part in political campaigns.

However, the issuance of the Order is a partial implementation of the most talked about code of conduct that mandates all presidential appointees to resign a year prior to elections.

In its petition, the EFFL calls on the Supreme Court to declare executive order #117 illegal and that it should have no force and legal effect.

“We, request Your Honor to declare Executive Order #117 illegal and should have no force and legal effect. It is the contention of the petitioner that laws are not retroactive and therefore not applicable to anyone appointed by the President of Liberia at this point in time, since the publishing date is December 29, 2022, and the election date of October 10, 2023, is ten (10) months and, as such, ten (10) months cannot be equated to one-year threshold,” the party argues.

EFFL: “It is also the contention of the petitioner that the December 29, 2022 Act amending Section 5.2 and 10.2 of the 2014 Code Conduct has prospective effect and therefore cannot be equated to any governmental appointees in the pending October 10, 2023, General and Presidential Election.”

The objective of the Code of Conduct is to dissociate the fiduciary duty of trust, integrity and loyalty owed by public officials to the people from their personal desires to contest elections at the expense of public resources, it further notes.

It reminds that the Act provides that all officials appointed by the President including all cabinet ministers, deputy and assistant cabinet ministers, ambassadors, ministers consuls, superintendents of counties, and other government officials, both military and civilian, pursuant to Article 56(a) of the 1986 Constitution and others who desire to canvass or contest for an elective public office within the Government of Liberia, shall resign his or her position one (1) year before the date on which the election for the post for which he/she intends to contest.

EFFL however observes that President Weah has just issued the Order with just seven months to the conduct of elections on October 10, 2023 and that the amended Act can’t prevent public officials from contesting in said elections and, thus mandate the resignation of all such persons effective April 7, 2023 — his reliance being the constitutional power vested in the Executive Branch of Government to execute the Executive Powers,

an action the party notes that should be taken either to meet an emergency or to correct situations that can’t wait the lengthy legislative process.

The party strongly believes that the condition under which Executive Order #117 was issued casts more doubt on the true intent of the President, if not to shield his lieutenants and appease current legislators promising him support for his re-election bid.

“The one-year requirement of the Act began on December 29, 2022, and the election is scheduled October 10, 2023, which falls short of the one (1) year threshold”, it contends. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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