– For false representation and violation of the CoC
Just 52 days to the holding of the presidential and legislative elections, the National Elections Commission (NEC) on Thursday revoked its acceptance letter qualifying Dr. Michael P. Slawon to contest as Liberty Party (LP) representative aspirant for Nimba County District#9 for allegedly violating the Code of Conduct (CoC) by not resigning his position as director general of the National Commission on Higher Education up to present. Denying Slawon’s participation in the upcoming election, six of the seven commissioners who approved the decision said “the NEC Nomination Committee’s recommendation for Slawon to contest as a representative aspirant in District#9 Nimba County is hereby rejected and overruled, and the acceptance letter issued based on false representation by him is hereby ordered revoked,” adding, “his name is ordered removed from the final listing of accepted candidates for the 2017 presidential and legislative elections.”
Giving support to the decision, the NEC stated that in Slawon’s notarized answers to questions 7 to 9 of the aspirant’s questionnaire to establish residency, domicile and compliance with the CoC for public officials, “Slawon untruthfully answered ‘no’ to the question as to whether or not he had been appointed to a government position during the past three years.” The electoral body maintained that Slawon’s false answers to the questions referred “herein constitute sufficient legal grounds to revoke and nullify his acceptance letter issued by the NEC.”
The decision to reject Slawon was signed by Cllr Jerome G. Korkoya, Cllr. Sarah M. Jegede Toe, Samuel Z. Joe, Cllr. Jeanetta A. Ebba Davidson, Davidetta Browne Lansanah and Boakai A. Dukuly. Jonathan K. Weedor did not sign the document on grounds that he never participated into the appeal filed to the Board of Commissioners by one Dahn Sherman.
As laid down under Section 5.1 and 5.2 of the CoC, “All officials appointed by the President of Liberia shall not: a) engage in political activities, canvass or contest for elected offices; b) use government facilities, equipment or resources in support of partisan or political activities; c) serve on a campaign team of any political party, or the campaign of any independent candidate.” And 5.2 states: “Wherein, any person in the category stated in section 5.1 herein above, desires to canvass or contest for an elective public position, the following shall apply: a) any minister, deputy minister, director-general, managing director and superintendent appointed by the President pursuant to article 56 (a) of the Constitution 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; b) any other official appointed by the President who holds a tenured position and desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said post three years prior to the date of such public elections; c) however, in the case of impeachment, death, resignation or disability of an elected official, any official listed above, desirous of canvassing or contesting to fill such position, must resign said position within 90 days following the declaration by the National Elections Commission of the vacancy.”
However, Slawon challenged the commissioners’ action and subsequently announced an appeal before the Supreme Court. He is currently a director general of the National Commission on Higher Education and serves on the board of several community colleges, positions he did not resign before applying to the NEC to contest the ensuing elections, and was subsequently accepted by the electoral body.
Slawon’s exclusion from the upcoming electoral process brings to two the number of presidential appointees barred by the NEC, one of whom was Abu Kamara, assistant minister for administration at the Ministry of Post and Communication, for violating the CoC.
The petition that resulted in Slawon’s disqualification was filed by one Dahn Sherman alleging that the aspirant has not resigned his position, which is a complete violation of the CoC, though he is a presidential appointee. In counter argument, Slawon admitted that he serves as director general of the National Commission on Higher Education and on the board of several community colleges, arguing that he is not a presidential appointee. In its lengthy order, the commission pointed out that from the record, there is a letter dated March 20, 2012, “wherein Her Excellence President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf appointed Slawon to the position of director general of the National Commission of Higher Education.” Further to their decision, the electoral body said, “Based on the evidence produced during the trial and Slawon’s admission that he is currently holding the position(s) to which he was appointed by the president, he was required to resign as a condition to contest the 2017 representative election in District#9, Nimba County.” They added, “Because Slawon failed to resign as required by law before applying to the NEC to contest the ensuing elections, we hold that he is in egregious violation of Section 5.1 and 5.2 of the CoC.” Accordingly, the NEC ruled: “We are duty bound to reject and revoke his letter of acceptance to contest the 2017 presidential and legislative elections.”
Before the decision to revoke Slawon’s acceptance letter, the NEC hearing officer that first handled the matter on August 3 of this year, ruled in favor of Slawon, contending that he was not in violation of the CoC, a ruling that has now been reversed by six of the seven commissioners serving on the NEC Board of Commissioners.