–Mills Jones Vows To Contest 2017 Elections
Since the Supreme Court handed down its ruling on the Code of Conduct about a month ago, in which a some presidential and legislative aspirants were affected by the court’s decisions, the former Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) has spoken for the first time on the development, declaring that he will be a candidate in the October 2017 elections.
Dr. Mills Jones, Political Leader of the Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE), said he will contest the 2017 presidential and representatives elections and that “nothing will stop him” from contesting the elections.
The Presidential candidate said he would resist the law that prevents him from contesting the election, and he doesn’t care whether it was approved by what he called the “Court of Pontius Pilate”.
He argued that the Code of Conduct was not approved by the Liberian people; therefore, it cannot stop him from contesting the elections. Moreover, Dr. Jones said he has not done nothing wrong, neither has he brought war to Liberia.
“Have I sponsored somebody to bring war to destroy our country or is my name in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report for participating in the war for which they are after me like this?” he asked?
The Liberian financial expert spoke last week when he addressed thousands of patricians at a political rally in Monrovia.
Commenting further, Dr. Jones said recent debate over the code of conduct, in which he and few others were affected by the court’s ruling, was as a result of manipulations masterminded by its crafter to deny him from the elections.
Jones believes that the reason for the decision was based primarily on the financial policy he introduced at the CBL in which he revived the hopes of many Liberians.
“From the day we started our financial inclusion policy at the CBL, we became a target for some government officials who felt that we did not meet their political plan,” Dr. Jones narrated.
He criticized his political opponents who he believes are undermining his political ambition and have failed the Liberian people. He said some of these individuals are spreading lies to the public by saying that he (Dr. Jones) is not a candidate in this election.
It cab be recalled that in late February, the High Court quashed a petition filed by Bong County Superintendent, Selena Polson-Mappy, in which she prayed the Court to declare unconstitutional the Code of Conduct Act that bars Executive appointees from contesting elective posts, unless they resign two years before elections are held. In the case of other appointed officials who hold tenured positions and desire to contest for public elective offices, the Code of Conduct dictates in Section 5.2 (b) that such officials “shall resign said post three (3) years prior to the date of such public elections.”
In its ruling, three Justices of the High Court voted in favor of the decision, while the other two dissented in which it ruled that the Code of Conduct Act was enacted, in the wisdom of the National Legislature, the supreme interest of the Liberian people to protect the resources of the country from abuse by public officials and to create a plain level political field for all contesting candidates.
The Court: “The Act is not, in our opinion is repugnant to, or in conflict with any provision of the Constitution to warrant its declaration as being unconstitutional as contended by the appellee/petitioner.”
The Supreme Court said the petition filed by the petitioner, praying it (Court) to declare the Code of Conduct Act unconstitutional for reasons that Section 5.2 of the Code of Conduct Act is discriminatory, arbitrary and capricious, tantamount to amending the eligibility provisions of the Liberian Constitution for public officials to qualify as candidates for public offices is not tenable in law.
The High Court added: “That the enabling office of the Code of Conduct Act, the office of Ombudsman established under Section 12.1 and 12. 2 of the said Act, authorized to receive and investigate all complaints in respect to adherence to the Code of Conduct Act, is yet to be made operational. Accordingly, the office of Ombudsman being the forum of first instance for handling matters relating to violation of the Code of Conduct Act as intended by the National Legislature shall forthwith be made operational and appeals therefrom should lie to the Supreme Court.”
“Wherefore and in view of the foregoing, the petition seeking to declare the Code of Conduct Act, or any provision thereof unconstitutional, same being unmeritorious, both in fact and in law, is hereby denied and dismissed. The Code of Conduct Act is declared legal and binding in the Republic for all intents and purposes, and it is so ordered,” the Supreme Court ruled.
However, it can be recalled that Dr. Jones left the CBL February 2016, less than two years before the holding of the October 10, 2017 representatives and presidential elections.
It is not known whether the Code of Conduct Act will be retroactive or not considering that Dr. Jones was serving as CBL Governor when the law was passed.
Dr. Jones is not the only presidential aspirant that may be affected by the Supreme Court ruling, as Dr. Jallah A. Barbu, former Chair of the Law Reform Commission who declared his candidacy for the presidency in 2016 may be affected as well.
There is also the issue of Harrison Karnwea, the former embattled head of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) who was recently named as Vice Standard Bearer of the opposition Liberty Party.
Liberia’s former Ambassador to the US, Jeremiah Sulunteh, is also among those who will be affected by the ruling. It is also not clear whether the latest Supreme Court decision would affect Alex Cummings, standard bearer of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) who was appointed on the Board of the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
The Code of Conduct applies to all officials covered under Article 56 of the Constitution including Ambassadors, Ministers, Consuls, Chief Justice, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Judges of the subordinate courts, Superintendents, other county officials of other political subdivisions; members of the military from the rank of lieutenant of its equivalent and above; and marshals, deputy marshals and sheriffs.
Section 5.2 (a) of the Code of Conduct dictates that any Minister, Deputy Minister, Director-General, Managing Director and Superintendent appointed by the President …. and a Managing Director appointed by a Board of Directors, who desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said post at least two years prior to the date of such public elections.