Code of Conduct Law Bites Back

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In what could be considered as violation of the highly controversial National Code of Conduct Law, the ruling Unity Party over the weekend elected several senior appointed government officials to serve as the Party’s National Executive Officers for the next six years.

The 2016 UP convention, held in the provincial city of Gbarnga, which saw the election of senior and junior cabinet ministers, have come under integrity check with opposition parties, including the Congress of Democratic Change (CDC) demanding their immediate dismissals, terming their elections as conflict of interest, and in violation of the National Code of Coduct.

On Friday, July 8, the Minister of Labour, Neto Lighe was elected the UP’s senior vice chairman; GSA Deputy Director General J. Cole Bangalu, national vice chairman for Inter-Party Affairs; Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT), Lenn Eugene Nagbe, was elected as national secretary general; and Assistant Agriculture Minister Patrick Tarnue Worzie, national deputy secretary general.

In a press conference yesterday, July 11, at the CDC headquarters in Congo Town, the party chairman Nathaniel McGill said election of the cabinet ministers gravely contradicts Section 5.1 (a & c) of the National Code of Conduct. The referenced section rules that, “All Officials appointed by the President shall not, (a) engage in political activities, canvass or contest for elected offices; and (c) serve on a campaign team of any political party, or the campaign of any independent candidate.”

“We are asking the President to dismiss Ministers Lighe, Nagbe and others because their election as UP officials contravenes the Code of Conduct,” the CDC Chairman said. “We are hopeful that she would do it because it is her responsibility to protect the law of the land, not undermine it.”

Last Week, Mulbah Morlu, CDC’s chairman for operations, also said the action by several government officials to actively participate in political activities at the just concluded convention of the ruling Unity Party, ignoring provisions of the Code of Conduct signed by the President is a recipe for chaos come 2017.

Morlu said: “This is bad precedent, and I believe that the rule of law is being butchered. This government is on the wrong pattern and the laws of Liberia are under threat from this government.”

He continued: “What if the CDC was to choose which law to obey and disobey, then we are heading for trouble. What if the CDC says tomorrow we are going to respect certain guidelines from the National Elections Commission (NEC) and disobey the others? This is our country; we are all equal under the law.”

Earlier, a stalwart of the National Patriotic Party (NPP) Bong County Senator Jewel Howard Taylor, one of the key sponsors of the Code of Conduct Act, also condemned the election of cabinet ministers, arguing that it violates the law of the country.

Senator Taylor said the Code of Conduct is very clear, stating that no official appointed by the President should engage in political activities, canvass or contest for elected offices, because it’s obvious such individuals will further violate the Code of Conduct using government facilities, equipment or resources in support of partisans or political activities.

The Code of Conduct was signed into law on Monday, May 12, 2014, by President Sirleaf the at her Foreign Ministry office.

In part, the Code of Conduct said no person whether elected or appointed to any public office, shall engage in any activity which shall be against public policy or constitute conflict of interest.

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