Code of Conduct Bites, Aspirants Bark Back

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Karnwea, Sulunteh and Kamara, are the first affected by a Code of Conduct related decision from NEC

Subject to interpretation, NEC rejections set off queue of appeals to Supreme Court

The realities are now dawning upon Liberians (at home and abroad) as it was inevitable that this day or such a moment would come the since that fateful day when the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Code of Conduct. The infant Code, finally using its teeth, has bitten its first few victims via the rejections of four political aspirants by the National Elections Commission (NEC).  But these affected aspirants are not squealing in pain.  No, they are barking all the way to the Supreme Court, each with his own case to challenge the NEC’s implementation of the Code of Conduct — and even that is still subject to interpretation.

Some affected aspirants are even questioning the sincerity of the National Elections Commission (NEC) as to whether the process is being conducted fairly void of manipulations. They have described the Code as a “biased piece of law, intended to ostracize others from participating in national electoral processes.”

When the CoC, which bars presidential appointees from contesting elective posts unless they resigned two/three years prior to the elections, was passed into law and its legitimacy subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court, many had thought that it would have been business as usual as the laws of the country have been relaxed or compromised at one point or another, during this administration.

And what many, especially those aspirants caught in the web, took for granted and spoke lightly of is becoming very serious before their own eyes. They thought it would have been business as usual. But certainly this is not the case.

The NEC, at the candidate nomination proceedings on Thursday at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports complex in Paynesville, rejected Mr. Harrison Karnwea, the vice standard bearer of Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine’s Liberty Party (LP), as well as Ambassador Jeremiah Sulunteh, vice standard bearer to the former number 2 man at Coca-Cola, Alexander B. Cummings of the Alternative National Congress (ANC).

The two vice standard bearers were rejected barely hours after presenting their nomination forms to be finally clear or given authorizations as legitimate contestants at the October polls. These two brings the total number to four of candidates that have been rejected by the NEC. Last week two representative aspirants from Montserrado and Gbarpolu Counties were disqualified by the NEC on the basis of the same COC.

They NEC, through its Public Relations boss Henry Flomo, confirmed to the Daily Observer through a telephone conversation on Saturday that the LP Karnwea and ANC Sulunteh were disqualified on the basis of the COC.

He further clarified that this does not necessarily mean that they won’t participate in the October elections. “They still have a chance and that rests squarely with them. They can still challenge their rejection and who knows? Anything could happen.”

Flomo noted that the nomination and verification exercise is a process. These two were out rightly disqualified because NEC was very confident of them violating the COC.

The opposition LP has resolved to engage in a legal battle with the NEC until justice is served. The party has already begun to raise some question about the NEC’s sincerity and integrity as it goes about candidate evaluation exercises immediately after the LP’s Vice standard Bearer, Harrison Karnwea, was out rightly rejected-an information that they initially learned from social media.

LP Standard Bearer, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine said at a press conference in Monrovia on Saturday that it was a shame that the party and Karnwea got to know about his fate through social media when the information was allegedly leaked to some ruling party stalwarts. The LP has condemned the leakage of this sensitive information, especially to staunch members of a direct rival party, accusing the NEC of sinister motive.

He described the rejection of his running mate as premeditated and that he was denied even prior to the submitting of the nomination as some people had been informed.

He said that the LP was accorded no due process as prescribed by section 12.3 of the amended COC, which calls for investigation before a candidate can be denied. He argued that the NEC reached out to neither Karnwea nor the party as was supposed to be done with any individual who is under investigation.

The ANC, which has yet to comment on the matter, is expected to do so at a press conference scheduled for today, said Jonathan Dolakeh, Deputy Secretary General of the party.

Karnwea is a former managing director of the Forestry Development Authority(FDA) who stepped down in March this year and announced his exit from the ruling Unity Party few days later, crossing over to LP.

He was later picked as Cllr. Brumskine’s running mate. Karnwea, during his acceptance speech bragged,  “I see no ticket deserving victory than our ticket. I see no ticket that can be easily entrusted with the future of this country other than our ticket,” Karnwea said upon his preferment by Cllr. Brumskine to be his running mate.

But this dream seems to be at the brink of collapse or at best, just out of reach, if luck/fortune or chance does not play its part in his favor.

Sulunteh resigned his post as Liberian Ambassador to the United States in February and later crossed over to the ANC. He was a top ranking member of the ruling party, serving formerly as senior national vice chairman of UP. He had previously served as Minister of Post and Telecommunications and Minister of Transport.

Since its passage, the COC has been the most contentious aspect of the electoral process, generating a lot of debate in-country and the Diaspora. It would be an understatement to insinuate that the court of public opinion will intensify the debate as the NEC continues the candidate evaluation, carrying out background investigations as it relates to all of the 14 counts that could disqualify a specific candidate.

These include the COC, the residency clause, citizenship, age requirement, one being domiciled in a specific constituency before s/he can contest a legislative seat; and many more.

NEC’s scribe, Flomo, noted that candidates would be disqualified by the commission if they failed any of these. “So this is a process that the NEC is conducting. We just want the chance to do our work. Anyone who feels dissatisfied could go to the Court, which has the power to instruct us on what to do,” he said.

He said that the NEC will be coming up with a preliminary listing of candidates before the final listing. “By the NEC accepting your nomination and giving you your package does not necessarily mean you are qualified and will be contesting the elections. It only allows us to know who all are coming in and so we began our investigations, which is tedious and time consuming, as we have to ensure no one violates any of our set rules,” he explained.

“So if your name is to even appear in the preliminary listing does not mean you will contest in October. We will still be investigating candidates and anyone who falls short will be disqualified. You can only be relaxed when your name appears on the final listing because that is what we will use to print the ballots. So this is a long process and no one is qualified yet and those who have been rejected could still get a chance but through the legal means,” he said.

Certainly with all these requirements, one could come to the conclusion that there will be a lot of cases coming out of the NEC’s nomination an candidate vetting process.

This means the docket of the Supreme Court will be full with cases as denied candidates will be trooping in for redress. It could get real messy, by virtue of the sheer uncertainty beclouding the electoral process, a situation the Governance Commission and its Chairman, Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, were trying to avoid when it recommended, in its yearly report, to the NEC and other relevant actors to make the COC inapplicable because of limited time.

Dr. Sawyer and his GC received barrage of criticism for calling for the law to be compromise, though this would not have even been the tenth time. Will Sawyer and his GC be vindicated as this saga unfolds? Only time will tell.

30 COMMENTS

  1. Why is Cllr. Brumskin pretending? He knew all along that Hon. Karnwea was not qualitfied, yet he encouraged him. What was Cllr. Brumskin’s motive for misleading Hon. Karnwea? This debacle has created a volume of suspicion about Cllr. Brumskin’s intention toward this dear country of ours. All well-meaning Liberians are hereby warned to watch out for “the snake in the green grass”. ” A hint the wise is quite sufficient”.

  2. Humn, what is wrong with Brumskine? According to this man:”it is not the responsibility of the standard bearer and his or her party to ENSURE that a running mate to be chosen has met the eligibility requirements prescribed by THE LAW”!

    My God!!! This is a man who wants to be the President of a country. Which law school did Brumskine attend? Brumskine, you must be out of your mind asserting such a baseless argument.

    My friend, both commonsense and conventional wisdom should tell you that when it comes to the eligibility requirements viz the COC LAW, it is ACTUALLY THE RESPOSIBILITY AND DUTY of especially the standard bearer and the party to ENSURE that the anticipated running mate has met the eligibility requirement of the COC LAW, and not necessarily the running mate. Shame on you Brumskine!!!

  3. When I told people that all those pretending bickerings between Boakai and Brumskine were a mere strategy by Ellen, Boakai, and Brumskine, a few thought it was a joke. Now that up to this time Boakai has still not announced his running mate, and Brumskine’s running mate is out, do not be surprised to see Brumskine as Boakai’s running mate, or the Francis Korkpor Supreme Court behaving as a kangaroo court by determining the eligibility requirement of the COC LAW noil and void to please Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

  4. Neither Sawyer nor his BAD GOVERNANCE CIMMISSION shall ever be vindicated for their attempted subversion of THE LAW AND THE SUPREME COURT!

  5. Mr. Cummings as a Cocoa Cola executive, didn’t do his homework well(poor judgement ). All along we known his running mate was not eligible but yet and still he went along and chose him. This was a political blunder on his part that came back to hunt him. How in the world would you pick a candidate jumping all over place? I hope he finds someone very quickly or if he thinks the court will rule in his favor then we have yet to see. Until then, may God bless Liberia!

  6. Mr. Brumskine is a lawyer and an educated man who should have known better in the first place by respecting the Laws. He said that Mr. Karnwea did not express his desire to be a vice president two years ago but he did had the desire from the beginning to become president of Liberia. But he is awared that code of conduct is a law that exist which ban all public officials who refused to resign in time from contesting elected position in the Republic of Liberia. In fact , I’m not a Lawyer but very aware that ignorance of the Laws there is no excuse. Those who want to be Leaders in the country must learn to set good examples for our younger generation to follow. We need to always and at all time respect and enforce our Laws for the forward march of the country. Compromising the Laws of the Land is a recipe for failed state.

    • Mr. Wulu, it seems to me and many of your readers that you are a part of the group that supports CONSTITUTIONAL CORRUPTION. The so-called CODE OF CONDUCT is intended to exclude eligible Liberians who are threats to the ruling UNITY PARTY ‘S Candidate. This is plain and simple. My Previous Editorial on this corrupt LAW did inform the public to reject the so-called LAW. The LAW is indeed against LIBERIANS’ freedom to choose the LEADER, they prefer or it infringes on their democratic principles. If the Law is strongly powerful and respected, why has it not applied to Legislators in the House and Senate, where Members have serious violations of the so-called CODE OF CONDUCT. For examples, Are DIAL CITIZENSHIP and (2) years proofs of Residency, violations of the CODE OF CONDUCT? I believe as many do in public, both Home and abroad, that the so-called LAW must not be applied to the 2017’s ELECTION because the public is troubled by its legality. It must be redefined to cover all, not only to the Vice President and the president.

      • Victor,

        Please please, these Legislators were not appoint by the Executive, they were elected by their people. Please get a copy of the COC and read it to see who they are talking about.

        • Saingbe,
          Who are you taking the country back from. Take a look at the house and senate and see who is ruling the country.You have plenty John Doe and Mary peters and and David weah, with Joe blow cooking for them, and driving their cars, while they treat their own people as slave, same thing you are talking against. So please take that Congua thing from your mouth and do yourself good by talking about the issue that we face in Liberia.

        • Victor,
          Please please, these Legislators were not appointed by the Executive, they were elected by their people. Please get a copy of the COC and read it to see who they are talking about.
          Reply

  7. One of the tests of leadership is prescience. That is, a leader must be able to reasonably anticipate certain course of events and accordingly adopt precautionary measures to forestall difficulties and prevent disaster. But with Brumskine, Cummings, and Jones, the problem is old habit which does not die easily. Since they are Congua, the Rule has never apply to them. So, they have wrongly assumed that the Code of Conduct was meant to be a mere formality. It would never apply to them since they are Congua, first class citizens, super Liberians. So, Brumskine chose Karnweah, although Karnweah was not in compliance with the Law; Cummings chose Sulunteh, although the candidacies of both men are not in compliance with the Law; and Jones continued to boast that he will run for President although his candidacy is clearly illegal.

    Significantly, when Ambassador Weah decided to run for the Senate, he resigned his appointed position as Chairman of the National Reconciliation Commission.

    Also, when Hon. Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan decided to run for President, first he resigned his position as Foreign Minister. Senator Weah and former Foreign Minister Ngafuan are Native Liberians, and therefore, are considered as Second Class Citizens and subject to the Law. But why should we allow this obnoxious line of demarcation to continue to exist in our country during this time and age?

    Most Congo people are lawless, unpatriotic, and corrupt. It is their lawlessness, their unpatriotism, their corruption, that have permeated the Liberian society and made Liberia the 4th most corrupt country in the world. And Liberia will forever continue going down as long as it remains the personal property of the Weekses, the Parkers, the Kings, and the Coopers, etc.

    Therefore, the question facing Native Liberians is: What Is To Be Done?

    And the answer to this question starts with the election of VP Boakai as the next President of Liberia on October 10.

    Native Liberians must take back their country on October 10 and make it a better place for all – including the Congua.

  8. Mr. Saingbe – You and the rest of the Joe Boakai people need to stop this dangerous divisive politics: Listen to your self – Most “congau people” are this or that. Next you will be talking about most Krahn or Nimba people being killers or calling Grebo people boyo, and of course the usual line – Mandingoes are all foreigners. I can sense the bigotry in people like you. Where will this ethnic hatred stop? Liberians are Liberians. Stop generalizing people. There’s nothing that one tribe has done that another is not guilty of.

  9. @Saingbe…SMH…SMH….if the congau people do not believe the laws apply to them can u explain why some of them from the same family u mention have land cases ties in the court system for over 10-20 years? Shouldn’t we just go and bully our way in there and get what we want? U r the kind of person that no matter how many times people tell u the sky is blue u will swear up and down that it is white…so I will “go along with u for a bit” ” the best president and only legit president Liberia ever had was Pres. Doe, ….he was a fearless leader, incorruptible, humble, peace loving, law abiding man of the people. He built roads, schools, hospitals, market places, ports. He built our electricity system, transportation system, post office system, logging system, and most importantly of all he built an agriculture system so efficient that Liberians never had to import food. This mighty man of a leader was a native Liberian and did something in 15 years that no other “congau” president had accomplished in 120 years.. ..Then the “congau” people killed him.

  10. And the worst part about Boakai supporters is that the only basis upon which people should vote for Boakai is his being a so called country man in spite of his corrupt nature and character.

    And a similar laughable thought is seen in the case of Brumskine. This time not necessarily with his Brumskine’ s supporters, but with the Brumskine himself who only want to be president because he feels like becoming president, WHEN THROUGHOUT HIS ADULT LIFE HE HAS ALWAYS BEEN AGAINST THE MASSES AND BEING A BENEFICIARY OF THE ELITE AND FOREGN BUSINESS OWNERS.

    THE MURDER OF YOUNG EDWARD GBERIE IN THE LATE 70’S BY HIS BRUMSKINE’S BENEFACTORS–SUPERMARKET OWNER ON CENTER STREET AND THE KANGAROO JUDICIARY OF WHICH BRUMSKINE WAS A BENEFICIARY ARE A CASE IN POINT.

    BRUMSKINE IS A LAWLESS CLOWN! LOOK AT HIS VERY ILLOGICAL ARGUMENT AGAINST THE COC LAW. LOOK AT THE CORRUPTION BY HIM AND HIS DISQUALIFIED RUNNING MATE AT COCOPA!

  11. Do you see the inequity and favoritism in President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf administration
    in Liberia? Why Dr. Mills Jones was not rejected by NEC? Do you see why she forcing
    Jerome Koprkoya as Chairman of NEC? Because Ellen is dictating to the Chairman who
    to accept and who to reject? Otherwise, Chairman Jerome Korkoya should had rejected
    Dr. Mills Jones as well. Plains and simple!

    • Sir/Madame, Mills Jones has not yet submitted his papers to NEC to be declared a candidate. If and when he does, we expect that the NEC will reject him in similar fashion.

    • Tarlue, do not rush to judgement, Mills Jones will be rejected, just wait and see. The government started with Mill Jones from day one and now they will get him.

  12. Ha yaaa…..Liberty Party and ANC you people have set the stage and let other follow.

    Where is Mr. Darius Dillon who knows how to interpret the COC the best for Liberty Party with his “Never had the Desire”.

  13. I think the last i read, Dr. Jones resigned his position at national bank prior to the CoC passage into law. Stand corrected.

  14. Uphold the law! Let us start acting like a country and not a club for a privilaged few. There are tens of thousands of Liberians qualified to contest public office. If you select candidates who may very well be required to go to the Supreme Court to adjudge their eligibility, you do your party a disservice. You’re no better running through litigations while other parties are campaigning.

  15. Nobody should under estimate the law of Liberia. Equally so, nobody should blame the NEC for implementing the law. The CoC law was not made by NEC, so the president can not dictate to Chairman Kokoya. When the CoC business started, most Liberians took it for joke, now here we are.

  16. All the Supreme need do is tell the petitioners what the code of conduct law say. The law is the law. The majority opinion must be upheld or the Supreme Court will look foolish in the eyes of the international community if it reversed its own opinion to accommodate politicians.

  17. You just can not violate the law to uphold the law. The rule of law is what is expected of a good government. We have a law and those who violate the law must not be allowed to circumvent the law through their argument using the word “desire”. The supreme court decision is final. There is no appeal when the highest court of the land has spoken. The majority decision of the Supreme court is law. A precedent has been set. Everyone must obey the law. Anything to the contrary as Ellen and other politicians are attempting to do will bring the highest court into disrepute . The world is watching. Phillip Banks and others on the Supreme Court Bench must heed to the decision of the majority as their predecessors did( Louis Arthur Grimes, James A.A. Pierre, T. McCant Stewart, Gbalazeh, David D. Kpomakpor, etc. etc. ).

  18. The Law awaits Mills Jones to appear with his V.P.. The learned doctor argues that it was”not my desire to run for public office at the time of the passage of the law.” My desire to run came after I left the national bank and was petitioned by the people. What stupidity. The big question is why did he change his “desire to run, when all the time when he served as governor, he had no desire to run?” This stupid argument will not hold water. The law is the law and no one should be allowed to circumvent the law. The highest court of the land has spoken. A precedent has been set. There is no escape. The law must be honored or obeyed by all. You can not violate the law to uphold the law.

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