By Abednego Davies
House Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay has reacted to a front-page story of the Daily Observer claiming that he has never called for the relaxation of the implementation of the Code of Conduct.
This newspaper, in its Friday, June 2 edition, published a front-page story titled, “President, Speaker Want Code of Conduct Relaxed.”
Nuquay did not challenge the actual content of the story, but referred to its headline as ‘sensational.’
The newspaper story carried remarks made by the Speaker at the recent meeting of political parties and state actors at the Monrovia City Hall.
In a release yesterday, Nuquay said, “We reject and condemn the newspaper’s story as it lacks any iota of truth,” adding, “At no time has Speaker Nuquay called for the relaxation of the implementation of the Code of Conduct.”
The release quoted Speaker Nuquay as saying, “When a legal instrument is passed by the legislature, signed into law by the President, challenged by some citizens and interpreted by the Supreme Court as constitutional, it becomes a law of the land and it behooves all Liberians and those within our borders to respect it.”
For the benefit of the public, the document said, “The Daily Observer reporter wrote on behalf of the legislature, which many have accused of inserting the controversial section 5 in the CoC to ban other government officials from contesting the elections.”
Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay said every Liberian needs to be given the opportunity to participate in the electoral process and given the chance to be heard. “We want to commit ourselves as lawmakers to this process by ensuring that these elections are free, fair, peaceful and inclusive.”
Speaker Nuquay said he pointed out that “Peace is indispensable to our democracy and peaceful elections are not new phenomenon in Liberia as there have been several elections since the return of our country to democratic governance. We want to commit ourselves as lawmakers to this process by ensuring that these elections are free, fair, peaceful and inclusive.”
Meanwhile, Speaker Nuquay asked, “Why should a call for peaceful election amounts to relaxing the implementation of the Code of Conduct? Perhaps, the Daily Observer and its overzealous reporter misconstrued the meaning and the contextualization of the word ‘inclusive.’
“Our Constitution guarantees the political participation of all Liberians,” he maintained. “However, not all Liberians are eligible to vote; only those who have attained the age of 18. Not all Liberians run for representative, senatorial, presidential or vice presidential positions; only Liberians who meet certain age requirements can do so.
“Similarly, the Speaker’s call for an inclusive election does not in any way amount to a call for the relaxation of the Code of Conduct,” he said. “Speaker Nuquay believes in the rule of law and always stands on the side of the law,” the released noted.
The Daily Observer welcomes the Speaker’s reaction. While he did not use the word ‘relaxed’ with regard to the Code of Conduct, the context in which he spoke, including the heated debate among political parties over the controversial ‘Section 5’ of the CoC at the event, led us to the headline we chose. A question mark (?), which should have appeared at the end of the headline in question, was inadvertently, regrettably omitted. The headline was intended to read thus: “President, Speaker Want Code of Conduct Relaxed?” To this question, the Speaker’s reaction has indicated a resounding “no.” Therefore, we consider the matter closed.