Dr. Amos Sawyer
Chairman/Good Governance Commission
By J K K Peah
Following intense rage and public outrage about the Good Governance Commission recommending portions of the National Code of Conduct requiring public officials wishing to contest in an election to resign from their positions three years for tenure appointees and two years for non-tenure appointees before an election be made inapplicable by the National Election Commission, the Commission, yesterday appeared on a local radio station, RCI on the “Truth Breakfast show” represented by the legal counsel of the Commission and Mr Dusty Wolokolie, an executive, said the Commission has withdrawn its recommendation asking the National Election Commission to suspend the portion of the “Code of Conduct” requiring public officials to resign their positions two years for non-tenure employees and three years for tenure employees before an election they wish to contest for a seat.
The two Good Governance executives said their recommendation was a draft sent out for validation and came on the premise that the Code of Conduct was challenged by a public official, Superintendent Selena Forh-Mappeh of Bong County who was seeking declaratory judgement on the unconstitutionality of the Code of Conduct which she argued, was unconstitutional and infringed on her right to contest to run for Representative in the country’s October elections.
The Commission further said as the result of the “Code of Conduct” pending adjudication before the Supreme Court and the fate of its applicability been uncertain then, the Governance Commission was making a good fate recommendation to the National Election Commission to avoid confusion during the process but now that the Supreme Court has ruled, declaring the Code of Conduct constitutional, it has withdrawn its recommendation to suspend the Code of Conduct and standing by the Supreme Court’s ruling, adding, the Supreme Court is given the authority by the Constitution to adjudicate and clarify laws sent before for it and its ruling is final and binding and the Governance Commission’s final annual report has removed the recommendation and replaced it with supporting the Code of Conduct and its full applicability in the ensuing elections.
Emphasizing as to why the Governance Commission made the recommendation, the executives cited the glaring defiance of some Presidential aspirants who are currently roaming the country campaigning despite by the Code of Conduct and some by the constitution are disqualified but they continue their campaign insisting” the Code of Conduct does not apply to them”.
Clarifying the Governance Commission’s purported recommendation to also suspend the “10-Year Residency Clause” of the Constitution which stipulates anyone vying for President or Vice President must reside in the country 10 years prior to the election they wish to contest, the two executives said, the Commission had never made such recommendation and wonders “where the media is getting this information from because the Supreme Court ruled on the 10-Year Clause during the 2011 elections, ruling that the clause was inapplicable in 2005 and 2011 because the country had not attained 10 years of democratic governance knowing that the country had been through 14 years of war and conducted the first election of the country’s stability in 2005 and had not reached the 10 years benchmark of stability but the clause is applicable in the 2017 election because the country has attained the 10 years of stability and governance”.
The Good Governance Commission’s executives affirmed their support and full for application of the Constitution and Code of Conduct.
The formal President Pro-Temp of the Liberian Senate, Clatus Wotorson, called into the talk show and scorned the Commission, saying the recommendation of the Commission to the National Election Commission was “prejudicial” because the Code of Conduct was before the Supreme Court and the Commission should not had made the recommendation but waited decision from the Supreme Court on the Code of Conduct.
The Governance Commission executives, assured the Liberian public that they recognize the significance of the 2017 elections, “the first time in 73 years the country will witness the transfer of power from one democratically elected government to the next”” since 1944 and call on all Liberians to refrain from actions or behaviors that could undermine the very significant milestone.
The Governance Commission executives admonished the National Election Commission and the Supreme Court to prepare handle the many legal challenges that will be filed by citizens and groups against candidates who are in violation of the Code of Conduct and the Constitution but are still campaigning insisting the Code of Conduct and Constitution they are in violation of do not apply to them.
We know people will challenges those candidates who are in violation of the Code of Conduct and Constitution, the national Election Commission and Supreme Court should be prepare, the executives emphasized.
The blunt clarification from the Good Governance Commission and their unequivocal support for the Supreme Court’s ruling, upholding the constitutionality of the “Code of Conduct” and full application of the constitution, dash the hopes of those deviant aspirants who have been roaming the country campaigning insisting though they are in violation of the Code of Conduct for others and, the constitution for others, under the cover of the perceived Governance Commission’s recommendation to suspend the Code of Conduct and 10-years clause of the constitution, are now left hanging for survival on a thread in the middle of the ocean as their campaigns and ambitions were tossed yesterday morning by the Governance Commission.
The campaigns of formal Central Bank Governor, Dr J. Mills Jones, Mr Alexander Cummings, Senator George Weah, Mr Harrison Karnweah and Ambassador Jeremiah Slunteh for President and Vice President were effectively castrated following the Governance Commission’s clarification and withdrawal of their recommendation and standing in full support of the Code of Conduct and constitution.
Senator Weah, Standard Bearer of the country’s largest political party, Coalition for Democratic Change ambition to become President of Liberia is dashed as he holds naturalized citizenship of France and United States, a secret he kept while deceiving the country and impersonating as a Liberian and ran for President and Vice President in 2005 and 2011 respectively.
Senator Weah also ran for Senator in 2014 and won and currently serving in the Legislature, though he had obtained his U S passport in June 2013, a year before his senatorial election which is valid through June 2023.
The former Coco Cola executive, Mr Alexander Cummings, is also a United States and had not resided in Liberia for 10 years before the October election as required by the constitution but returned to the country last year after his retirement from Coco Cola and been out of Liberia for over 45 years.
The Liberian constitution requires only natural born citizens who resided in the country for 10 years can run for President and Vice President and though the country does not have dual citizenship, the election guidelines further prohibit dual citizens from contesting for public office in Liberia.
Hon Karnweah who recently resigned his position as Managing Director of the country’s Forestry Development authority, a public agency, is in breach of the Code of Conduct because he failed to resign two years before the election and the Liberty Party whose Vice Standard Bearer ticket he is vying for, will have to get into crisis mode and scramble for his replacement soon.
The alternative National Congress which Mr. Alexander Cummings and Ambassador Jeremiah Slunteh are flag bearers of as Standard Bearer and Vice Standard Bearer, respectively, is in the worst predicament realizing now both candidates are ineligible to contest the election- Mr Cummings is U S citizen and had not resided in the country 10 years immediately to the October elections as per the constitution while Ambassador Slunteh is disqualified for being in violation of the Code of Conduct for not resigning his Ambassadorial post two years before the October election but left his post last December.
How the Alternative National Congress re-calibrates its campaign to replace their Standard Bearer and Vice Standard Bearer is puzzling few months to the election since Liberian political parties are built around their leaders and not institutional- when the leaders leave, the parties die- is left in the wings as they see their hope dashed away.
Senator Weah naturalized American citizenship was revealed when his U S passport was published on the internet by anonymous source and the media published his French citizenship status from online record of “Tracking the World” recently while Mr Cummings himself revealed his American citizenship in a town hall meeting with the Liberian Community in the State of Minnesota, United States in September, 2015 and subsequent publication of his U S citizenship in several media institutions including the leading newspaper in the state of Georgia, ‘Atlantic” as well as records from Coco Cola Worldwide submitted to the Federal Security and exchange Commission (FEC), listing him as an American citizen.
The audio recording of Mr Cummings’ town hall meeting with Liberians in Minnesota revealing his American citizenship was widely published recently and the publishers of the audio recording also promised to release the video recording of his town hall meeting with the Liberian community where, the publishers revealed, will show the former Coco Cola executive confirming to his American citizenship.