Troubling Trend for Liberia’s Democracy – Executive Failure to Act on Violation of Code of Conduct Law
ADHERENCE TO THE RULE of Law is the foremost pillar of good and flourishing democracy as it ensures that people live orderly and in the ambit of what is legislated.
WITHOUT LAWS, THE SOCIETY will be in complete chaos and this is why developed countries credit their growth and development to respect for the rule of law.
WHEN PEOPLE ARE ALLOWED to do what they feel, it creates a situation where the strong survives and the weaker feeling the wrath of the stronger.
KNOWING THE IMPORTANCE of the law, countries around the world have a group of people charged with the mandate to make laws that govern the rest of the population, since it will be difficult if not impossible to have the entire population sitting and discussing before making laws.
IN LIBERIA FOR EXAMPLE, the country has three separate and coordinate branches of government-the Legislature, the Judiciary and the Executive. Under the Liberian constitution, the Legislature which is made up of members elected by the entire population has the responsibility to make laws.
WHETHER THOSE AT the Legislature are not amongst some of the most sophisticated people in terms of education and experience, the fact remains that they were entrusted by the population to perform that sacred duty.
THE SYSTEM IN LIBERIA is so good that when the lawmakers pass a law, there is a process of check and balance where the President has sufficient time to review the law, agree with its content before affixing signature to make the law legal where only the judiciary can now interprets its content-not even the Legislature or the President who signed it into law can say whether the law is enforceable or not.
THEREFORE, WHEN THE legislature makes a law that is signed by the President, anything other than the judiciary interpreting its content, any violation is punishable as prescribed in the same law unless challenged through the court.
THOSE WHO DESIGNED the governance system were certain of the process of enforcing a law and as such made it compulsory for the President to sign any law passed by the Legislature before such law can come into force. By the President who heads the Executive affixing a signature; it is an affirmation that the Executive will enforce the law. A law that is not enforceable is never a law, so in the instance debate President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf read the Code of Conduct Law and signed it, meaning she knew its contents are enforceable unless challenged through the court for proper interpretation.
THIS IS WHY WE see the recent violations of the Code of Conduct law of 2014 by several officials of government and the muteness of the Executive Branch of Government in enforcing the law as flagrant neglect of its constitutional duty.
IT IS CLEAR THAT DURING the recent convention of the ruling Unity Party held in Gbarnga, Bong County, several officials of government including the official spokesperson of Liberia, Information Minister Eugene Nagbe, Labor Minister Neto Lighe, Gender Minister Julia D. Cassell, Patrick Wozie and others appointed by the President to various positions in government knowingly violated a provision within the Code of Conduct Law.
SPECIFICALLY, THE CODE Conduct provides in Part V that officials appointed by the President should not part take in political activities.
THIS SECTION OF THE Code of Conduct states “PART V: POLITICAL PARTICIPATION 5.1. 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 partisan or political activities; c) serve on a campaign team of any political party or the campaign of any independent candidate”.
THIS SECTION OF THE LAW signed by the President was grossly violated in Gbarnga, Bong County as government assets including vehicles and others were used by the Unity Party and its officials yet President Sirleaf boasted that her government respects the rule of law.
“WE HAVE A GOVERNMENT that shows respect for the rule of law, and over the years the judiciary and the entire justice system is active and everywhere to give confidence to the people”, President Sirleaf said in Gbarnga at the Unity Party convention.
MADAM PRESIDENT, showing respect for the Rule of Law as you stated in Gbarnga also behooves you not to sanction a gross violation of the Code of Conduct Law on which you affixed your signature and agreed to its contents.
WHEN A LEADER SANCTIONS the actions of his/her followers in violating a law, it paves the way for a lawless society which is a bad sign for Liberia that once witnessed a complete breakdown of law and order and the accompanying effects.
SOME OFFICIALS OF Government including Information Minister Nagbe are now claiming that the Code of Conduct violates their constitutional rights as a justification for their actions to violate the law. This is a bad sign for our emerging democracy. If so many Liberians were knowingly violating laws simply because they feel the laws violate their rights, the society will be uncontrollable and chaotic.