The statement released by Hon. Augustine KpeheNgafuan, Former Foreign Minister of the Republic of Liberia on his resignation as Liberia’s Foreign Minister; and reasons for his resignation was read with utmost dismay and concern by the Movement for Democratic Initiative (MDI).
Before detailing our disappointment in Mr. Ngafuan’s action, we at the Movement for Democratic Initiative (MDI) feel very sorry for our beloved Country – Liberia at this stage of our under development that our Law Makers with the support of the Leadership of the Executive Branch of Government will deliberately pass a law that is divisive and discriminatory; and expect rational thinkers and people who want to see this country prosper in every sphere of its national life to remain silent and allow chaos to prevail.
The statement published by Mr. Ngafuan on his resignation was read thoroughly and critically analyzed to obtain the basis for his decision to leave Government at a time where there is an ongoing probe at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs into an alleged misappropriation of funds related to the “Japanese Grant”
In Mr. Ngafuan’s statement, he stated that his decision for resigning at this time is in obedience to the law (i.e. Code of Conduct) passed by the Liberian National Legislature mandating all officials appointed by the President of Liberia and Board of Directors of Public Corporations to resign their posts at least two (2) years if they desire to contest for public office.
While in Mr. Ngafuan’s statement, he mentioned that he does not fully concur with some of the provisions in the Act of the Legislature prescribing a National Code of Conduct for all Public Officials and Employees, especially Part V on Political Participation, he went ahead and resigned his post to enable him fully participate in political activities ahead of the 2017 Presidential and Legislative elections.
The Movement for Democratic Initiative (MDI) sees this as a clear contradiction on the part of Mr. Ngafuan; his words and action do not match; and this resignation of Mr. Ngafuan leaves the Movement for Democratic Initiative (MDI) to believe that such person as Mr. Ngafuancan not be further trusted with any leadership position in Liberia; whether electable position for the 2017 General and Presidential Elections or appointed position for that matter; as his action of resignation signifies that he will compromise the very Liberian people and Constitution for the sake of his personal convenience as he has done in this case of his resignation; only to justify that he wants to be law abiding even though he – Mr. Ngafuan acknowledged that the very code of conduct law is unconstitutional.
From a rational point of view, no one who has the desire to participate in a process would want to deprive himself or herself from serving the very people he or she wants to lead as long as two (2) years prior to the process. We at the Movement for Democratic Initiative (MDI) are of the strongest conviction that there are so many persons presently serving the Liberian people through different positions in the Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches of Government; and have vested interest in contesting for positions; and participating actively in the 2017 General and Presidential Elections, but have not resigned; and will not resign as resigning will breathe life or give undue credence to a law (i.e. Code of Conduct) which is not only divisive and discriminatory in nature, but unconstitutional and unenforceable. The question is; will these people be disqualified under such unconstitutional and discriminatory Law? Or will they be allowed to participate in the electoral process which is their constitutional right? The obvious answer to such question is every Liberian; regardless of class or status has equal right under the Liberian Constitution to participate in political activities at every level. Though deliberate; it is very much unfortunate that the Constitutional Provision of equal right for every Liberian to participate in political activities at every level was ignored on purpose by the very crafters of the “so called” code of conduct; an action which in itself is unconstitutional.
Mr. Ngafuan or anyone who resigns in compliance with this so-called Code of Conduct should not be seen as a law abiding citizen as he claims, but rather a coward who does not have the courage of his conviction or “guts” to speak out and stand against an unconstitutional law that discriminates against well-meaning Liberians who have genuine passion to see our country move forward.
Liberians should be aware of people who demonstrate double identity or are playing double standard. There are many politicians parading the corridors of power with hidden motives. Every Liberian must be given equal opportunity to participate in the political process in fulfillment of the Liberian Constitution.
To have a law that deprives a certain Liberian from serving his or her country two (2) years prior to elections because of a desire to contest political office is tantamount to violation of their rights as enshrined in the Liberian Constitution; therefore Liberians must stand up against such law and hold our Law makers and the Leadership of the Executive Branch of Government accountable if anything goes wrong in this country.
It is obvious that people would resign their post during the process to enable them concentrate on their campaigning, but for them to resign two (2) years prior to the process only because they have the desire, is wrong and incomprehensible to say the least. Moreover; the issue of resigning or not resigning should be left to the discretion of the individual. Every Liberian should have the right to remain in office; and contest just as it is in the case of the President, Vice President and Members of the National Legislature; ensuring this will be justice being done for all men.
Let’s look at the meaning of desire as stated in the Code of Conduct: a desire is not determined by anyone in relation to another person unless such desire is expressed by the one who has the desire. How then can you place a timeline on a particular person or group of people serving in specific capacities to express a desire with a time frame attached? Isn’t this in itself so discriminatory; and having a person like former Minister Augustine K. Ngafuan to succumb and acknowledge such law speaks to his cowardice nature and anxiety to ascend to political office at the expense of the Liberian Constitution.
We must learn lessons from our brutal past history and initiate measures that would pave the way to a brighter future for this country rather than support a law that will set a bad precedence; and violate the constitutional right of any one individual or group of people. This is counter-productive to our hard earned fragile peace and stability.
It is disheartening and unfortunate that the Executive and Legislative Branches of the Liberian Government could plan and design such a divisive law only geared toward their own selfish and individual political interest to the extent of disregarding the organic laws of the land. It is however left to the Judiciary Branch of Government to determine the unconstitutionality of such law; and prevent it from taking roots; especially so as there is a pending case challenging this law before the Supreme Court of Liberia. The Supreme Court opens its October Term on Monday, October 12, 2015. This matter is of great Constitutional importance; and the Supreme Court should speak sooner rather than later; as doing so will be in the best interest of Liberia’s hard earned fragile peace and stability.
Even more troubling to the Movement for Democratic Initiative (MDI) is news in the media and some quarters about a so – called deadline of October 10, 2015 for all officials appointed by the President of Liberia and Board of Directors of Public Corporations to resign their posts at least two (2) years if they desire to contest for public office in compliance with this Unconstitutional
Code of Conduct Law. How can you have a deadline for a law that is awaiting a decision at the Supreme Court of Liberia regarding a challenge on its unconstitutional nature? The Movement for Democratic Initiative (MDI) calls on the media as the Watch Dog of the Society and all well meaning Liberians to condemn and discourage in the strongest terms all attempts by the Executive and Legislative Branches of the Government of Liberia to impose any unconstitutional law; including, but not limited to the so – called Code of Conduct Law on the Liberian people; as executing any such unconstitutional law will be met with the strongest of resistance by the Liberian people.
With the National Legislature and Leadership of the Executive Branch of the Government of Liberia being the brains and architects of discriminatory and unconstitutional laws in this day and age in Liberia; the Movement for Democratic Initiative (MDI) sees the Judiciary Branch as the only hope to ensure that the imposition of this unconstitutional law does not hold water in our society. However; for any reason; if the Judiciary chooses to concur with both the Executive and Legislative Branches of Government to uphold any discriminatory and unconstitutional law, Liberians will be left with no other option, but to turn to Article 1 of the Liberian Constitution which states that “the power belongs to the people”. None of the perpetrators of this discriminatory act should assume that the Liberian People will accept this charade calling itself a means to secure the resources of the state so that they can not be used for political reasons. These perpetrators should know that the Liberian People will not accept such discrimination under any circumstance. No matter the cost; the People’s Power will certainly prevail; as Liberians will no more be taken for granted or a ride.
There are laws to prevent corruption in Government. Moreover; when it comes to corruption, it is hard to accept the idea which seems to be at the heart of this issue of political participation that elected officials who have been excluded from this discriminatory and unconstitutional law are the ones with the least potential to be corrupt. We see that the Liberia Anti Corruption Commission (LACC) has a case against some members of the House of Representatives; are they appointed? What an irony? Who executes the National Budget; is it not the President of the Republic of Liberia? Are we to believe that a President running for a second term or who is ending his/her second term, but has interest in a particular candidate to succeed them can not deliberately tailor the execution of the national budget for political reasons? Are we to believe that it is the appointed ministers or officials who would misuse public resources for election, but not the President under whose instructions such Ministers or officials act? Can this not be seen as narrowing the field of opponents; especially those that they are afraid of? The action of Vice President Joseph N. Boikai, Sr. in Lofa County more than highlights the discriminatory and unconstitutional nature of the law. Vice President Boakai went to Lofa County under the guise
of going to thank the people of Lofa County for the fight against ebola; receiving Government funds and other resources for that travel to Lofa County, yet to the contrary; Vice President Boakai turned the trip to Lofa County into a political rally; where he – Vice President Boakai received petition; and declared his intention to run for President in 2017. Why should such act of Vice President Boakai be accepted under the so-called Code of Conduct which he signed before sending it to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who also signed it into the so-called law; though unconstitutional.
In conclusion; the Movement for Democratic Initiative (MDI) is encouraging all patriotic citizens of Liberia to hold serious discussion about this matter. Even the international Community should be interested in this issue having spent their treasure and blood to help Liberia get a stable course.
All can agree that democracy is not built on willful acts of exclusion from the political process by those who want to secure their positions of privilege. The eyes of the Liberian people are open; there are things the Liberian people will accept; and there are things they will definitely not accept.