The Election Coordinating Committee (ECC), a coalition of seven civil society organizations set up to observe elections, said it has observed with grave concern a breach of certain provisions of the National Code of Conduct for all public officials and employees of the government during the just-ended ruling Unity Party (UP) National Convention. The breach has prompted the ECC to call for the establishment of measures to enforce, oversee, monitor and evaluate adherence to the Code of Conduct.
In a statement released yesterday during a press conference in Monrovia, ECC Chairperson Oscar Bloh said during the party’s recently held convention in Gbarnga, Bong County, the UP violated Section 5.1 of the National Code of Conduct, which focuses on political participation.
According to Mr. Bloh, the participation and election of several appointed government officials to key leadership positions in the UP is a direct form of engaging in political activities, in breach of Section 5.1 (a) of the Code of Conduct.
Section 5.1 of the Code of Conduct states: “All officials appointed by the President shall not engage in political activities, canvass or contest for elected offices; use government facilities, equipment or resources in support of partisan or political activities.”
Mr. Bloh added that the holding of the convention at the Gbarnga Administrative Building and the use of government vehicles, which encompass equipment and resources, also contravene Section 5.1 (b) of the Code of Conduct.
He identified vehicle inscriptions such as General Services Agency (GSA), the Ministry of Finance Development and Planning (MFDP) -04-16, LB 1665 and GSA-MFDP-05-5 to be among government owned vehicles that were used at the convention.
The UP convention was held in Gbarnga, Bong County, from July 7 to 9 in the city’s administration building where several government officials, who are also members of the Unity Party, were elected to various positions in the party, including Information Minister Len Eugene Nagbe as the UP’s new Secretary-General.
But Mr. Nagbe has challenged anyone or group of institutions, who took exception to the party’s voting into offices its stalwarts, who are government officials, to seek redress through the court.
Mr. Bloh maintained, however, that the participation and election of several appointed government officials to key leadership positions in the UP is a direct form of engaging in political activities, in breach of Section 5.1 (a) of the Code of Conduct.
Apart from the contraventions of the Code of Conduct as catalogued by the ECC, Mr. Bloh observed that those elected to serve in key leadership positions within the party are overwhelmingly male, which indicates that the convention was not gender sensitive in keeping with the Amended
Election Laws of 1986 Section 4.5 1(b), which states that, “A political party of coalition in its submission to the Commission of its list of candidates for an election shall endeavor to ensure that the governing body and its list of candidates has no less than 30 percent of its members from each gender.”
Going forward, and in keeping with Section 12.1 of the Code of Conduct, the ECC has called on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to establish the office of the Ombudsman responsible for the enforcement, oversight, monitoring and evaluation of adherence to the Code of Conduct.
In the meantime, the ECC has called on all political parties to adhere to the provisions contained in the Code of Code regulating the conduct of political parties.
The ECC is an election watchdog founded in 2011. It is a body of civil society groups supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the National Democratic Institute (NDI).
The ECC’s motto is: “Promoting Credible Elections to Increase Public Confidence in Democracy.”