The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) says President George Weah and his Coalition of Democratic Change (CDC) led government’s failure to provide adequate funding for the holding of the recently suspended senatorial by-elections in Montserrado and Bong Counties’ violates the Liberian Constitution and it undermines the country’s fledgling democracy.
Liberia’s National Election Commission (NEC) on May 8, 2018, postponed the by-elections due to what the Commission calls the lack of monetary support from the ruling CDC government. According to the NEC, it received from the Weah administration US 500 hundred thousand dollars out of the approved US 2.7 million dollars required for the successful hosting of the by-elections in the two counties.
ALJA in a press release issued on May 14, 2018, says it is deeply troubled by the inaction of President Weah and the Liberian government in raising the money required for conducting the elections. The Association notes that the government’s action sets a bad precedent in the political governance of the country and it further erodes the rule of law.
ALJA maintains the blatant refusal of the Weah administration to support the NEC despite the numerous behind the scene discussions held with members of the Commission, and the legislative and executive branches of the Liberian government led by Finance Minister, Samuel Tweh, with the sole purpose of galvanizing the needed funds for the holding of the election in keeping with Article 37 of the Liberian constitution does not augur well in upholding the rule of law in Liberia. Article 37 of the Liberian constitution calls for the holding of by-election 90 days after a vacancy is announced in the legislature.
The Americas based Liberian journalists say it finds it incomprehensible to see President Weah and his CDC officials literally shuttling from one community to another in Liberia making millions of US dollars commitments to redundant and unplanned projects while leaving critical matters such as the senatorial by-elections, which have constitutional implications unattended under the guise of the “no money” syndrome.
ALJA notes the suspended senatorial elections are imperative; and President Weah and the ruling CDC must exert every effort in ensuring the elections are held as required by the electoral laws of Liberia. “Any action other than the successful execution of the senatorial by-elections would create an unnecessary constitutional crisis for the country,” ALJA observed. The Association emphasized that it is contradictory for Mr. Weah and his CDC followers to masquerade in Liberia as champions and advocates of social justice, honesty, and accountability in the public sector while at the same time patently refusing to respect and adhere to the laws of the country.
Meanwhile, ALJA is reminding the Liberian Chief Executive and officials of the CDC administration to do the most honorable thing by declaring their assets in accordance with Section four of the approved National Code of Conduct. Section four of the Code of Conduct requires all public officials, who are entering or re-entering public office and have no record of declaring or re-declaring their income, assets and liabilities to do so prior to taking office.
Article 90 (C) of the Liberian Constitution of 1986 authorized the Liberia National Legislature to prescribe a Code of Conduct for all public officials and employees. The Code of Conduct prescribes among others, acts which constitute conflict of interest or are against public policy and punishment for violation thereof.
ALJA says in keeping with the March 3, 2017, Supreme Court ruling, the National Code of Conduct is constitutional; and President Weah and officials of the Liberian government must honor and abide by the asset declaration requirement. ALJA says as a manifestation of good leadership, the President must take the lead in respecting the National Code of Conduct by declaring his assets with the Liberia Anti-Corruption Corruption as required by law. The Association notes that asset declaration is critical for curtailing theft and other corrupt practices in the public sector.