Liberia: Tarpeh Rejects Campaign Appointment

-Cites code of conduct

Newly appointed Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Executive Director Prof. Wilson Tarpeh has rejected his appointment as National Campaign Chairman of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) for the December 8, midterm senatorial electionciting the controversial 2014 code of conduct for public officials.

The immediate past Commercial Minister was recently named among a host of Government officials to head the ruling party's senatorial campaign. Other government officials listed are Gender Minister Mrs. Piso Saydee Tarr, as head of Media and Communication, Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee, as head of Operations, Deputy Finance and Development Planning Minister Dr. Samora Wolokollie as chief strategist, National Port Authority Managing Director Mr. Bill Twehway, as County Coordinator.

Other senior Government officials named on the ruling party's campaign team are Education Minister Prof. D. Ansu Sonii, Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Paulita C.C. Wie, Grand Bassa Superintendent Janjay Baikpeh and Labour Minister Moses Y. Kollie among a host of dozens others.

Prof. Tarpeh said on Tuesday October 27, 2020 he would rather support the party but not to be a direct participant in the campaign as doing so, he says contravene the code of conduct.

The code of conduct particularly Part V-political participation bars public officials from participating in electoral activities.

Part V, Section 5.1 states: 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.

The Code further states in Section 5.2 thatany official who is desirous of canvassing or contesting for an elective public position should resign two years prior to doing so.

The Code lists; 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; c) However, in the case of impeachment, death, resignation or disability of an elected official, any official listed above, desirous of canvassing or contesting to fill such position must resign said position within thirty days following the declaration by the National Elections Commission of the vacancy.

Prof. Tarpeh is arguably the first official to publicly decline such appointment based on the code of conduct. The code has since been violated by public officials in all sectors and has become toothless.

The code hit rock bottom during the 2017 elections when Liberty Party then vice Presidential Candidate Harrison Karnwhea and others failed to vacate their positions two years prior to being nominated.

Quite recently, Foreign Minister Gbehzhongar Finley resigned just few months to the December 8, election instead of the two years requirement.

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