Authorities at the National Elections Commission (NEC) have accepted the nomination of Roland G. Duo, an aspirant who holds an appointed position in the office of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s National Security Advisor, to contest the upcoming October polls.
Mr. Duo is contesting for a legislative seat on the ticket of the National Patriotic Party (NPP), which forms part of the Coalition for Democratic Change, of which Senator George Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change and former House Speaker Alex Tyler’s Liberia People Democratic Party (LPDP).
In the wake of NEC’s acceptance of Duo’s nomination, while he was yet to resign his post at the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, some disgruntled residents from his constituency of Nimba County Electoral District #4, have also questioned the NEC’s approval of him to contest the upcoming presidential and legislative elections.
NEC communications director Henry Flomo, who has defended the upholding of the controversial Code of Conduct, said the commission does not question any candidate, rather it reviews the questionnaire form to decide whether or not a candidate is truthful in his or her declarations. He, however, did not comment on the outcome of Mr. Duo’s nomination file, since he is yet to resign his post as President Sirleaf’s deputy security advisor. Mr. Flomo: “The law is the law that excuses no man.”
Duo is an aspirant for the Nimba County Electoral District #4 representative seat, but some citizens from the district have termed him as unfit, as per the Code of Conduct, to contest the elections.
Mr. Duo was among hundreds of people whose names were published on Monday, July 17, 2017, by the NEC as individuals preliminarily accepted to participate in the October elections.
But some residents in his district claimed that since President Sirleaf appointment Duo in April 2012, he has been working as deputy security advisor and coordinator for special projects at the Ministry of State, a position he currently occupies.
Section 5.1 and 5.2 of the Code of Conduct states: “All officials appointed by the President of the Republic 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 parties or political activities.”
It also says such persons cannot “(c) serve on a campaign team of any political party, or the campaigns of any independent candidate.”
5.2 says, “Wherein any person in the category stated in section 5.1 desires to canvass or contests 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 Director, who desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said post at least two years prior to the date of such public election.
“(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 election.
“(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 post within 30 days, following the declaration of the NEC of the vacancy.”
In separate interviews with journalists over the weekend, some of Nimba citizens demanded an explanation from the NEC why Duo’s candidacy was not rejected as it was done to some aspirants that allegedly violated the Code of Conduct.
“For its failure to reject Duo’s candidacy, the NEC would be perceived as a bias institution, whereas the commission is an independent body that is supposed to uphold the law,” an angry female residents said at a gathering in Monrovia.
The citizens said like Harrison Karnwea and Abu Kamara, Duo’s application needs to be discarded by the NEC, “because they are equally in conflict with the law.”
Former Forestry Development Authority Managing Director Karnwea’s nomination was rejected by the NEC on grounds that he was barred by the Code of Conduct, which requires presidential appointees desiring to contest elections to resign two years before said elections.
Karnwea resigned from the FDA on March 9, 2017, nearly a month after quitting from the governing Unity Party. He was deputy political leader of the Liberty Party of Charles Brumskine on March 18, 2017.
Assistant Post and Telecommunication Minister Abu Kamara was also rejected by NEC from contesting the Montserrado County District #5 Representative seat, because he is yet to resign his post as required by law.
When contacted via phone yesterday, Duo denied holding the position of deputy security advisor, but said he served as special projects coordinator in the office of the national security adviser, a position which President Sirleaf appointed him to in 2012.
Duo said his job has nothing to do with the Code of Conduct and presidential appointment. He argues that he never faced a Senate inquest, as is done to members of the Cabinet, but was nevertheless appointed by President Sirleaf to the post.
It may be recalled that on April 10, 2012, following a careful review and analysis of the country’s security sector and consistent with her continuous desire for a country where the security of the state and its citizens is assured, President Sirleaf made more appointments in government affecting only the security sector. Where applicable, those named by the president were subject to confirmation by the Senate:
Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Jr., National Security Advisor, Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs; and Mr. Roland Duo, Coordinator/Special Projects, Office of the National Security Advisor at the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs, among others.