GC Meant to Avoid Pitfalls, Says Dr Sawyer

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The Governance Commission (GC) has indicated that recent recommendations made to the Supreme Court and the National Elections were done in good faith and it is unfortunate that they have been misconstrued and are being argued out of context.

Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, head of the Governance Commission, has come under criticisms in the past few weeks for what is being considered as “controversial recommendations” contained in the GC’s recent annual report, which placed much emphasis on the October 2017 elections.

Among other things, the GC recommended that the NEC and the Supreme Court declare the Code of Conduct’s (CoC) “exclusion rule” inapplicable. Part 5, Sections 5.1 and 5.2 of the CoC seeks to exclude from candidacy ranking officials of the Executive Branch of Government who did not resign from their positions within a given time frame before elections.

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer on Friday, Dr. Sawyer indicated that the sections mentioned above should be considered inapplicable to the 2017 elections.

“We want this done in the same manner and spirit the 10-year constitutional provision was considered inapplicable to the 2005 and 2011 elections. These recommendations are meant to avoid some pitfalls that would likely haunt the electioneering process. There are a lot of things that will come up that would stall the process if some of these recommendations are not considered,” he said.

Dr. Sawyer: “In the GC’s annual report, we decided to focus on the elections because this is one of the critical moments of our history and this process should be important to all of us.”

The consultation processes, he noted, started with the relevant stakeholders, including NEC, Supreme Court, political actors, stakeholders and CSOs, early last year. “At the end of the consultations, we had a draft. It was a draft to be taken for validation. We invited political parties, NEC, international partners but it will interest you to know that only our international partners showed up,” he said. “This is where most of the critical issues should have been discussed and well understood.”

“Political parties were going to conventions. Unity Party has gone to convention and chose their party officials. So we at the GC decided to come up with recommendations, because the process was already underway. We believe that since you have not done anything, let this provision be inapplicable. Later the Supreme Court came up with the ruling and said the law is constitutional. In our revision, we say the Supreme Court has ruled and we stand by the Supreme Court’s decision,” he said.

Dr. Sawyer said with the Supreme Court’s declaration of Sections 5.1, 5.2 of the CoC as legal and constitutional widens the horizon of the number of people that would be affected.

“This time it will not be only presidential appointees who are named in the CoC, but everyone appointed by the president. This now means that every person appointed by the president, be it District Commissioners, Township Commissioners, City Mayors and others. We feel this is worrisome,” Dr. Sawyer said.

Where the fear lies now, from the GC’s perspective, is the huge number of cases that would be brought before the Ombudsman’s office for investigations and onward recommendations to relevant institutions for final adjudication.

This, according to the GC Chairman, will further lead to more of those officials who would be denied filing writs of prohibitions on the elections until their cases are addressed.

“This is where our fear comes from. Everyone will be filing for a writ of prohibition and we won’t be able to go ahead with the elections. I’m afraid this is a question that will be difficult for me to answer. It will take a long time to be addressed and we don’t have a luxury of time.”

Dr. Sawyer made reference to the 2014 Senatorial election disputes that took almost two years to settle. “The Supreme Court’s elections’ disputes of 2014 went up to 2016. Now we are coming to big elections. So by February, we say look, there is a problem here and start discussing with various actors, stakeholders and the rest of the people,” he said.

In the same vein, he said, people who may be affected by the CoC will go through due process to face the NEC. “We will still be going down the road and still have to ensure that this process works well. We wish the Ombudsman’s office would have been established earlier,” Dr. Sawyer said, adding that the purpose of the GC report was to draw attention to all the roadblocks ahead.

“If you read the report, it says you must be a citizen in order to participate in the election. We don’t have any national identity card so how are we deciding who is a citizen? We put this burden on the elections commission and the NEC takes one person to register. We need to have a national identity card before getting into this,” he said.

The GC Report, he said, calls attention to many of these things, including NEC’s own budget. “Even the election’s own budget, when we were writing this report, NEC has not received all its money. The government budgeted NEC’s money in two budgets, and we are still struggling with this year’s budget. We are saying that NEC should receive their budget the year before elections. It must not compete with other priority issues.”

5 COMMENTS

  1. Dr. Sawyer just leave the laws of Liberia alone, you one of those who helped in constitutionalizing some of these laws and should even be infavor of their enforcement rather than their suspension and applicability.

    Your accedency to the presidency as interim president of Liberia during the civil war was purely accidental and at that time some of our laws were suspended and some inapplicable but not this time around Sir.

    Right now Dr.Sawyer, l strongly want to advise you to leave the code of conduct alone as we can not continue to make our laws inapplicable because of you or other Liberians, the war is over and our laws are back and should be enforced.

  2. ” We want this done in the same manner and spirit the 10-year constitutional provision was considered inapplicable to the 2005 and 2011 elections….” And Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah . In two major general elections and the 10-year constitutional provision could not be applied ? And nothing was done to correct that by the GC ? 2017 will make it the third general elections that the ten-year constiutional provision will not be used if the same political argument still stands . Proving that the law is not only a bad law but an out dated law that has no usefulness and can not be changed in order to meet the test of time . And here is a political scientist , Dr. Sawyer who is charged with writing and recommending as to improve the standing of the laws , here he is boasting of a constitutional provision that was not enforceable in two previous elections , so the Code of Conduct and should be suspended like the 10-year constitutional provision . When his office has the power to act on laws or recommend laws that do not meet the test of time . Just leave them like that ? But these laws are still laws once they are still on the books . It seems that once a law is not applicable , according to the GC , the best thing to do for that law is leave that law where it is and move on to another law without trying to fix the first law. The Code of Conduct is inapplicable says Dr. Sawyer . Solution: leave it alone like the 10-year constitutional provision was done . But they are still laws that are on the books . What is that nation to do with them ? How does one just leave them alone? Why leave laws on the books that are not applicable or do not meet the test of time? Why do suggest that ? And not have them fix ? There is another bill or proposition before the lawmakers from the so-called GC that will never be applicable and that is the so-called decentralization plan. Reason , the present government and the supposed future government for now are all saying out loud that there is no funding for the full implementation for that bill or proposition should it becomes law . So when that bill becomes law , will it too be on the books as not applicable ? So why do they come up with these ideas ? Just to get international funding for laws that can not be applied and are treated as social projects to be funded ? There are out dated laws still on the books that deals with free speech that the constiution does not recognized , but are enforceable by government . There is a ten-year constitutional provision on the books that deals with elections , but have not been enforced for the past two straight elections , going on to the third elections . And now the Code of Conduct being suggested by the GC to be dismissed out right after a ruling from the Supreme Court making it a law of the land ? Is this the country that regards itself as a constitutional democracy? Wow ! What a confused nation going with the flow of any political ideas that sounds right ? It seems that political ideas in that country do not depend on how useful they are , but how those ideas sound . That is all that is needed. Usefulness does not count .

  3. With the glued-closeness of Ellen and Amos Sawyer, and now Amos Sawyer now proven to be an individual or public official who subverts laws and policies to satisfy his selfish interests and those of his friends, it is more than clear NOW that Amos Sawyer is the one who has been misleading Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and this government since Ellen DASHED him with that nonsense they call “Governance Commission” as a token of appreciation for his contribution towards her wars to power which destroyed the country and massacred thousands of innocent women, babies children, and other civilians. The man got no shame. While his peer Togba Nah Tipoteh is busy fighting for the upholding of the Constitution viz this gross violating of Ellen´s Election Commission Chairman Jerome Korkoya, he Amos Sawyer is fighting hard to BREAK THE LAW!

  4. In fact, we forgot to add something important about this Subverter – in-Chief Amos Sawyer. Late 1990 Amos Sawyer carried out his subversion again. That time, as the former Chairman of the Liberian 1986 Constitution who should have seen to it that the Constitution is upheld after the death of the incumbent President (Dr. Samuel Kanyon Doe) while the Vice President ( Dr.Harry Fumba Moniba) was still alive and capable of taking over as prescribed by the Constitution, Amos Sawyer GANGED-UP with others and made them to impose him on the Liberian people as President, in an unimaginable violation of the Constitution vis a vis Article 63 B of the Liberian Constitution which states that:

    b. Whenever the office of the President shall become vacant by reason of death,
    resignation, impeachment, or the President shall be declared incapable of carrying
    out the duties and functions of his office, the Vice-President shall succeed to the of
    the President to complete the unexpired term. In such a case, this not constitute a
    term.

    Once it comes to Amos Sawyer´s selfish interests, statutory laws or constitutional laws prohibiting him from subverting the laws are according to him Sawyer “INAPPLICABLE”.

  5. Sawyer needs to be retired period. This guy continues to get FREE money from government say he is running the GRC. The GRC needs to be disbanded and the funds allotted to it be given to the health and educational sectors to improve the lives of ordinary Liberians. Whatsoever function the GRC is performing can be delegated to the IPA. The GRC is a complete waste of tax payers money. Ellen is compensating Sawyer for his role with the ACDL in bringing down the Doe government.

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