The ex-ruling National Patriotic Party or NPP is accusing the Unity Party-led government of violating the Code of Conduct for public officials here, warning that this could pose serious threats to the upcoming Representative and Presidential Elections in 2017.
The Code of Conduct, which was signed into law by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says that no person whether elected or appointed to any public office, shall engage in any activity which shall be against public policy or constitutes conflict of interest.
At a July press conference held at the headquarters of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change or CDC in Congo Town, National Chairman Nathaniel McGill said the election of cabinet ministers to political offices gravely contradicts Section 5.1 (a & c) of the National Code of Conduct.
The referenced section reads, “All Officials appointed by the President shall not, (a) engage in political activities, canvass or contest for elected offices; and (c) serve on a campaign team of any political party, or the campaign of any independent candidate.”
The ruling Unity Party at its July convention in Gbarnga, Bong County elected Vice President Joseph Boakai as standard bearer to contest for the presidency, while Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe was elected Secretary General amid criticism of conflict of interest.
Both the ruling party and the government insist they have done nothing wrong or violated the code of conduct. NPP Secretary General Andrew Peters, speaking on UNMIL Radio morning magazine program “Coffee Break” over the weekend said, “What we have observed in the past time that could pose violence to the upcoming elections is the complete violation of the code of conduct by the ruling Unity Party government.”
According to him, since the enactment of the code of conduct, no political party has violated this Act, except the ruling party, adding, “This is something that we as opposition political parties have seen that could spark up violence leading to this election.”He spoke following a two-day workshop held in GantaNimba County under the auspices of the National Elections Commission or NEC in collaboration with political parties, partners, including the European Union, USAID, the Liberia National Police and the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, respectively.
Mr. Peters said the objective of the workshop was to provide an opportunity where political parties can come up with a resolution, committing to peace as the l elections come closer. “This is an initiative that we various political parties believe will take this country forward”, he added.
He said stake actors, and political parties have worked on identifying issues that could serve as deterrence to the upcoming elections, and the peace of Liberia. “We have noticed numerous things that could lead to violence in these elections among them are (1) the complete violation of the code of conduct (2) there is no equal access to election sites during electoral process, the LBS have been very selective, (3) we want independent press that will observe every electoral process.”
He also pointed out that the kind of messages that are being sent out by the media are discouraging, noting that negative messages could lead to violence in the country. Meanwhile, the NPP Secretary General has underscored the need for Liberians to work hard and respect the views of others, saying “If we must lead to form a government of unity then, we must ensure respect for the rule of law, because Liberia is the only denominator that we have.”
Speaking earlier, the Director of Communication at the NEC, Mr. Joel Kennedy said the two days intensive workshop was also intended for political parties to make recommendations on issues of violence in the upcoming elections, adding the political parties gather themselves to mitigate any form of electoral violence, and promote peace in Liberia.
By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne