Chairman Morlu withdraws public officials from ruling party’s senatorial campaign team
The ruling Coalition for Democratic Change has withdrawn the nominations of all public officials that were appointed on various campaign committees of the party for the pending mid-term Senatorial elections.
The party’s move to appoint public officials which is in flagrant violation of Section 5.1 of the Code of Conduct that barred public officials from engaging in political activities was met with strong public outbursts before they rescinded the decision.
Section 5.1 says: “All officials appointed by the President should not engage in political activities, canvass, or contest for elected offices and or serve on a campaign team of any political party.”
Acknowledging the party’s error, CDC Chairman Mulbah Morlu announced that the party was rescinding the nominations of all those covered by the relevant provisions of the code of conduct and yet appointed to a party campaign committees.
“The decision, which was taken with the full acquiescence of the Party’s Governing Council, is intended to sustain the rule-of-law culture in the country as Liberia moves closer to another watershed electoral period, Morlu said.
Chairman Morlu added that he “recognizes that in order to consolidate the democratic gains the country has made over the years, there must be strict adherence to Liberia’s body of laws.”
Notable among the appointees where Mayor Jefferson Koijee, Gender Minister Williametta Saydee Tarr, EPA Executive Director Wilson Tarpeh, Deputy Finance Minister for Fiscal Affairs Samora Wolokollie, and National Port Authority Managing Director Bill Tweahway.
After a few days when the appointments were made, Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill, defended his party’s action and asked Liberians who felt offended by the decision to go to the court to seek justice.
In further defense of his action, Minister McGill said that the COC has been violated in the past, especially during the regime of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and wonders why Liberians are now pointing accusing fingers at the CDC.
“Let me tell you something about the COC that you are talking about. When the COC was crafted, we challenged people on the basis of our thinking that the code was being violated as some people who were contesting in the 2017 elections had not resigned two years prior to the elections as indicated by the COC. But the Supreme Court told us that we were wrong,” Minister McGill said.
Another issue raised by the President’s Chief of Staff is the absence of an ombudsman who is tasked by the COC to enforce the law. “The next thing we should know is that there is no ombudsman to enforce the Code,” he said.
Minister McGill mentioned former Information Minister, Lenn Eugene Nagbe, as a case in point for previous violations of the COC.
“My friend, Eugene Nagbe, was Minister of Information and at the same time serving as Secretary-General of the Unity Party at that time. Did he resign? But that’s our time now you want to say we are violating because you can talk,” he said.
But this was not the stand with Director of the National Port Authority (NPA), Bill Tweahway, who earlier said that he was not going to violate the law, noting that he has already tendered his letter of resignation to Chairman Morlu.
In consonance with Mr. Tweahway, the Election Coordinating Committee (ECC) and the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL), in separate statements, raised red flags over the decision of the party to appoint government officials on the campaign team of Thomas Fallah, the candidate all the weight is put behind to reclaim the Montserrado County senatorial seat from Abraham Darius Dillon, an opposition candidate.
The civil society organizations critized the decision and said it was in gross violation of the Code of Conduct.
Morlu’s statement added that while his party remains committed to ensuring a peaceful electoral process, it is also the responsibility of everyone, including political parties, to maintain the peace the country enjoys.
“While assuring the general public of the party’s commitment to do all in its power to ensure a peaceful electoral process — bearing in mind that everyone has co-responsibility to maintain the peace the country enjoys — the decision doesn’t bar any Liberian from freely associating with the party’s political activities as guaranteed by the constitution of the Republic,” Morlu added.