5 March 2017

Liberia: Supreme Court Says 'Code of Conduct Legal, Binding'

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Code of Conduct, signed into law by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2014, is legal and binding on the republic for all its intents and purposes.

The Act, which was submitted by the Executive to the National Legislature in 2009, states that all officials appointed by the President shall not engage in political activities, canvass or contest for elected offices, use government facilities, equipment or resources in support of partisan or political activities, among others.

The Act also stipulates that: "Wherein, any official of government who desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said post at least two years prior to the date of such public elections; 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 elections.

Ruling on a petition for Declaratory Judgment filed by legal counsel of Bong County Superintendent Selena Polson-Mappy, the high court declined to confirm her plea that the code of conduct is unconstitutional, unmeritorious both in fact and in law.

Accordingly, section 5.2 also states, "Wherein, any person in the category stated in section 5.1 herein above, desires to canvass or contest 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 Directors, who desires to contest for public elective office shall resign said post at least two (2) years prior to the date of such public elections; 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 (3) years prior to the date of such public elections."

In a three count judgment read by Associate Justice Kabineh M. Ja'neh the court rule that the appellate/petitioner, praying court to declare the Code of Conduct Act unconstitutional for reasons that section 5.2 of the act is discriminatory, arbitrary and capricious and tantamount to amending the eligibility provisions of the Liberian Constitution for public official to qualify as candidates for public offices is not acceptable in law.

However, Associate Justices Philip A.Z. Banks and Jamesetta H. Wolokolie took exception to the judgment of the majority in which they said the petition for declaratory judgment should have been granted by the court.

Friday's decision by the high court has set the stage for persons desiring to contest the ensuing 2017 presidential and representative election scheduled for October this year.

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