By: Wynston G.Freeman
The most talked about issue of this intense political season, permeating the facilities of political headquarters of various political parties and sending a shock wave to the political spectrum of Liberia, is the Code of Conduct (CoC).
The most controversial part of the CoC is Part V section 5.1 and section 5.2 that is the Heartbreaker of some of our political actors.
Section 5.1 of the National Code of Conduct for All Public Officials and Employees of the Government of Liberia under the title “Political Participation” states that ‘ All Officials appointed by the President of the Republic of Liberia shall not:
a) engage in; 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 of any political party, or the campaign of any independent candidate.
Additionally, section 5.2 of the Code of Conduct says ” 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 offices 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 tenure position and desire to contest for public elective office shall resign said post three (3) years prior to the date of such public elections
c) However, in the case of impeachment, death, resignation or disability of an elected official, any official listed above, desirous of canvassing or contesting to fill such position must resign said position within thirty days following the declaration by the National Elections Commission of the vacancy. ”
With these laws, ensued diverse questions that continue to catapult the minds of many Liberians. Some vehemently campaigning to make the CoC inapplicable, because they feel it is untimely and biased laws with sinister motive to unjustly deny some political leaders from participating in the upcoming October 2017 elections. Many believe that the CoC doesn’t suffice in acquiescence with the statutory laws provided.
Most political actors have described the Code of Conduct as a “biased piece of law, intended to ostracized others from participating in national electoral processes.”
The National Elections Commission has rejected four political aspirants in violation of the CoC. The four victims include: two representative aspirants; one from Montserrado and the other from Gbarpolu, while the other two victims are Vice Standard Bearers from two political parties.
March 2014 the Code of Conduct was passed into law; which is three years plus. The question is why are some politicians crying now as though they did not peruse the document?
The bad notion of government job “chop and chop” must come to an end! Why should a government official or an employee continue his/her position while canvassing or contesting for an elective office? Rationally, whose resources will be used? The obvious is government resources. So, I fully support the implementation of the Code of Conduct on that basis.
The syndrome of manipulating system in this country base on titles, fraternities, positions, popularity must got to stop! No one is above the law. Therefore, the code of conduct must be implemented unbiasedly.
The relentless and unbiased implementation of the code of conduct will begin the process of free and fair elections come October 2017. Liberians are closely watching as to how far the CoC will be relentlessly implemented.
In any society, laws are only as meaningful as much as they are implemented. Therefore, if the CoC is not implemented it will set the basis of more controversies in the future.