By: Eldred Wlemongar Thomas
In the midst of continuous public cry and diverse reactions on the setting up of the Ombudsman to spare head Code of Conduct, the Election Coordinating Committee has called for reconstitution of the body.
ECC Chairman Oscar Bloh said giving the close proximity of the two individuals to the ruling Unity Party to that of an opposition party undermines the spirit and purpose of independence of Ombudsman.
“The office of the Ombudsman is an independent autonomous body in keeping with Section 12.1 of the Code of Conduct responsible to investigate violations of the Code of Conduct and put forth recommendations for prompt actions.
The Executive Mansion of recent named former Police Director Chris Massaquoi and Edward Dillon, Massa Jallaba to the office of the Ombudsman, but Jallaba appointment was withdrawn and replaced by Elizabeth Hoff because she did not reach the retirement age.
Mrs. Hoff is a former President of the Press Union of Liberia and one time Deputy Minister for Technical Service at the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism.
They are not the most suitable Liberians to occupy these positions,” Ocsar Bloh, pointed out.
But Mr. Bloh contention points to Cllr. Chris Massaquoi, who was appointed as a member to the office of the Ombudsman has held several high top security positions in the current government and is considered to be a confidante of the President. Atty. Edward Dillion, another appointee, has close ties with the Liberty Party.
According to him, Dillion is a brother to the Vice Chairperson of the Liberty Party , Darius Dillion and had previously worked in the law offices of Brumskine & Associates/Pierre, Tweh & Associates Law Firm.
In an ECC statement, Bloh recounted that the Liberty Party is on record for saying that it has in no way violated Section 5.2 of the Code of Conduct by the selection of Harrison Karnweh as its Vice Standard Bearer. Atty. Dillion’s presence on this body poses a risk of conflict of interest.
The Elections Coordinating Committee believes that a wider consultative process with diverse stakeholders would lead to the appointment of competent individuals for the Ombudsman.
Bloh said there is a strong reason for the reconstitution of the Ombudsman, given the sensitive nature of the implementation of Sections 5.1 and 5.2 of the Code of Conduct and its implications for peace and security of the country during the pending electoral process.
“Should this proposal not consider, we call on the Liberian Senate not to confirm those named on Ombudsman,” Bloh noted.
He said the Code of Conduct falls short of stating the qualifications, competencies, experience and tenure of individuals to run the office of the Ombudsman and how they can be removed.
The head of the Election Coordinating body said President Sirleaf used Executive Power to address this gap by issuing Executive Order Number 83.
Mr. Bloh believes the Executive Order issued by President Sirleaf gives power to the office of the Ombudsman that is not prescribed in the Code of Conduct in keeping with the Constitution.
He however observed that the ECC respects the opinion of the Supreme Court regarding the legality of the Code of Conduct.
“Given the country’s history of political and socio-economic exclusion and in the spirit of consolidating our democracy and increasing citizens’ participation as well as strengthening the constitutional provision of all persons being equal before the law (Article 11 c) and equal opportunity to for work (Article 18), Bloh wants the National Legislature to consider amending Section 5.2 of the Code of Conduct”.
Bloh has at the same time indicated that while the process is time consuming, the ECC is proposing that a national conference to look at the modality in the implementation of the Code of Conduct particularly around Section 5.2. 3 Compliance of political parties with the elections laws and regulations
The ECC Chairman noted that official campaigning is yet to be declared opened by the National Elections Commission, some political parties are involved in campaigning with rallies intended to announce vice running mates.
According to Mr. Bloh is of the opinion that the mass mobilization of some political parties under the disguise of presenting their running mates to their supporters is a form of campaigning.
He wants the NEC cloth with the obligation and authority to hold parties accountable in keeping with the law if and when they engage in per-campaigning activities.