ECOWAS Envoy Urges Dialogue For Law in Code of Conduct Row


Monrovia – The ECOWAS Special Representative to Liberia, Ambassador Tunde Ajisomo says his mission in Monrovia is closely following the row over the Code of Conduct, but has called on Liberian political actors not to resort to violence.

Section 5.1 in Part five of the Code of Conduct Act on political participation says all presidential appointees such as ministers and other public officials, including those in tenure position desirous of running for elected offices, must resign two and three years respectively prior to elections.

But in an interview at the weekend to be broadcast starting Monday on a weekly radio show, Liberia At Elections jointly produced by LMDI and the Public Trust Media Group (PTMG), the ECOWAS envoy disclosed that his mission here was engaged in behind the scene consultations to quell the tensions.

Amb. Ajisomo said although Article  41 of the Vienna Convention says diplomats must respect the laws of the host country and refrain from commenting on issues considered within the premises of a country, the Code of Conduct issue has now become very contentious, thus the need to engage Liberia’s political actors.

He said the ECOWAS mission in Monrovia was not sitting on the fence, because in recent weeks some Liberian politicians have been visiting his offices to raise issues relating to the controversial Code of Conduct.

“Our approach is for a dialogue. Our approach is for the laws to be respected. Our approach is for engagement. Let us engage ourselves.

This is not the time for us to engage in violence. They’ve been coming to us to explain their concerns, but ECOWAS has been telling them not to resort to violence,” said Ajisomo,

A recent ruling of the Supreme Court of Liberia upholding the code of conduct as legal constitutional has placed the candidacies of many top Liberian politicians in doubt, heightening tensions ahead of the October 10, 2017 presidential and representative elections.

National Elections Commission (NEC) Chairman Cllr. Jerome Korkoya shortly thereafter vowed to enforce the Code to the letter.

But the ECOWAS Special Representative to Liberia reminded politicians that the Supreme Court is the highest court in the land in any country.

“What I can assure you is that ECOWAS is monitoring. ECOWAS is talking. We are talking, we are engaging with the politicians on the need for them to be law abiding and the need for them to ensure that they respect the laws of Liberia,”Ajisomo added.

He then called on all sides to peacefully resolve the ongoing dispute.

“Therefore we want the Liberian government and people to ensure that this matter is handled in a very peaceful manner; in a manner that will not bring conflict to this country,” the ECOWAS envoy noted.

Meanwhile, the ECOWAS mission in Monrovia has expressed support for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s call for the holding of a national pre elections political forum, but indicated that ECOWAS and the United Nations should spearhead such a meeting.

In her Annual Message in January, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf named her Governance Commission Chairman Dr. Amos Sawyer to chair the planned conference.

Ajisomo said the ECOWAS office here was working with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and other stakeholders so as to get involved in such a political dialogue, “with a view to ensuring it becomes inclusive”

The ECOWAS Special Representative said such a meeting should bring together groups such as the Inter-religious Council of Liberia.

According to him, the upcoming October elections in Liberia were crucial and the 15-member sub regional grouping was deploying a long-term technical elections observers mission to provide support to ensure a transparent, credible and peaceful elections.

He said ECOWAS, which played a key role in ending Liberia’s long-running fratricidal civil conflict well over a decade ago, was exerting all efforts to build on the democratic gains made so far, as the pending polls will be the third post war democratic elections.

When asked what warning ECOWAS has for would be trouble makers in Liberia’s political arena, Ambassador Ajisomo cautioned all political actors in the country to comply with the ECOWAS protocol on good governance and democracy, reminding politicians or political parties about the recent robust action taken by the sub regional grouping in The Gambia.

He warned that any political actor or group failing to comply, “ECOWAS has a mechanism in place to ensure that things are done properly…we (ECOWAS) will ensure compliance.”

Report by Frank Sainworla, Jr.