The Elections Coordinating Commission or ECC and the opposition All Liberian Party are calling on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to immediately withdraw the appointment of ex-police chief Cllr. Clarence Christian Massaquoi and Atty. Edward Dillon from the Ombudsman.
Both institutions maintain that this is necessary to avoid unwarranted tensions ahead of this year’s Representatives and Presidential elections.At a news conference on Wednesday, April 5, in Monrovia, the ECC said the Code of Conduct falls short of stating the qualifications, competencies, experience and tenure of individuals to run the office of the ombudsman and how they could be removed.
It says the office of the Ombudsman is an autonomous body in keeping with Section 12.1 of the Code of Conduct for public officials here. Cllr. Chris Massaquoi, who was appointed to head the Ombudsman, had held several top security positions in the current government, and is considered to be a confidante of the President, and that Atty. Edward Dillon, another appointee, has close ties with the Liberty Party and previously worked with Brumskine and Associates Law Firm, which poses a risk of conflict of interest.
Cllr. Brumskine is current standard bearer of the Liberty Party, who is vying for the third time for the presidency. The ECC, a civil society group, noted that the closeness of these two individuals to the ruling establishment and an opposition party undermines the ‘spirit and intent’ of the independence of the office of the Ombudsman therefore, they are not the most suitable Liberians to occupy the positions.
The group says given the sensitive nature of the implementation of Section 5.1 and 5.2 of the Code of Conduct and their implications for the peace and security of the country during the electoral process, “We call on the President to withdraw or recall the names mentioned above and undertake a wider consultative process with diverse stakeholders in nominating names to fill the office of the Ombudsman. In the event where this call is not considered, we urge the Liberian Senate not to confirm them for the same reason provided above,” a statement issued here read.
Adding its voice to the withdrawal debate, presidential hopeful Benoni Urey’s All Liberian Party says the recent appointment of Cllr. Chris Massaquoi and Atty. Edward Dillon on the Ombudsman undermines the basic principles of fairness and impartially.
The party claimed Atty. Dillon, is not only a close associate of Cllr. Jonathan FonatiKoffa, but also the ‘Godson’ of Presidential candidate, Charles Brumskine, as well as the younger brother of Darious Dillon, a key figure of the Liberty Party, and mostly importantly, he was in the employ of Cllr. Brumskine for years.
“Today, in the remaining months of her presidency, we want to urge Madam President to concentrate on improving the lives of her citizens and ensuring that peace and harmony reign in this final phase of her leadership,” an ALP’s the statement said.
Meanwhile, the party has condemned the recent unlawful arrest and detention of Mr. Presley Tenwah, Chairman of the Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia or PATEL and other members of his organization by the Deputy Inspector General of the Liberia National Police Col. Abraham Kromah on Monday, April 5.
The ALP indicated that the renewed harassment of the leaders of the Liberian business community and the illegal seizure of their goods and motorbikes, among others is a glaring recipe for chaos, something that is totally unacceptable, which the government needs to stop forthwith.
It urged the government to make every effort to negotiate with PATEL for the purpose of bringing the matter to a harmonious conclusion. Mainly comprised of local entrepreneurs, PATEL is demanding among others, reduction of tariffs, particularly on imported goods and stringent economic measures introduced by the state that have led to unfavorable business environment here.
By Bridget Milton -Editing by Jonathan Browne