The Institute for Research and Democratic Development or IREDD strongly condemns use of the Capitol Building to campaign for political candidates, saying the Legislature is a place for lawmaking, not campaign activities.
Addressing a news conference in Monrovia recently, IREDD Project Manager, Mrs. Mercy Sackey, continues that her organization strongly condemns the use of the Legislature as a political campaign ground for presidential candidates. “We wish to remind the legislators that the legislature is a public office and not political party offices, and their continuous action of turning the legislature into their political parties’ campaign grounds is shameful”, she expresses.
According to IREDD, there are good number of lawmakers, who are involved in this practice, including Senators Alphonso Gaye (Grand Gedeh), George T. Tengbeh (Lofa), Jewel Howard Taylor (Bong), Sando D. Johnson (Bomi), Prince Jonson (Nimba), Nyoblee K. Lawrence (Bassa), and Stephen J.H. Zargo (Lofa), among many others.
The institution says it has embarked on monitoring electoral malfeasance in the country with an objective of contributing to strengthening electoral integrity in the October 10th 2017 Legislative and Presidential Elections.
“Today’s report sheds light on the outcome of the monitoring exercise over the past three months across the 15 political sub-divisions.” The civil society group notes that its attention has also been drawn to Section 2.1 of the Code of Conduct for public officials, which calls for the application of the recommendations therein across all three branches of government and their subsidiaries, as highlighted in section 1.3.20: whether appointed or elected, all public officials are to adhere to the code regardless of status.
IREDD narrates that some incumbent lawmakers have turned their official vehicles into campaign vehicles as they go about campaigning for either themselves or some presidential candidates. “This is widespread and as progenitors of the law, legislators should be the first to uphold the law”, it emphasizes.
IREDD says it has observed gross violation of Sections 8.1 and 8.2, respectively of the Code of Conduct which prohibits public officials and employees of government from using public facilities and the services of public servants for unofficial purposes and party gains, saying “An example of this violation took place on May 11 and 18 in the rotunda of the Capitol Building where cross section of Lawmakers had gathered to endorse the candidacy of the Vice President, Joseph N. Boakai.”
It adds that another example involves a cross section of citizens from Bong, Lofa, Margibi, Nimba and Grand Bassa Counties, respectively, who gathered at the David Kuyon Sports Stadium to pledge support to the Vice President’s candidacy on May 14, 2017 without paying for the facility.
Similar violation, it says occurred on July 14, 2017 on the grounds of the Kakata City Hall when the governing Unity Party standard bearer Boakai was endorsed, using state facility for party gains without any record of paying for the premises.
By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne